Across the board, the term ‘PR’ is increasingly being challenged, discussed, and, occasionally, dismissed. This is seemingly the case in the industry and beyond, with some agencies dropping it in favour of the broader term ‘communications’ which encapsulates the wider service now necessary to achieve brand exposure in front of the eyeballs that matter – those of your potential clients.
Despite this shying away from traditional terminology, the actual services on offer from PR agencies are still central to business development and are often one of the first things that a Head of Marketing has to consider.
Yet in a world where CFOs control the purse strings, marketers are increasingly put under pressure by business leaders who are keen to challenge any cost to the business. In short, PR can no longer be considered as simply ‘fluff’ and return on investment must be proven against demonstrable and tangible business impact.
There are many ways of doing this, and for digitally native agencies who operate purely in the online space, this is mother’s milk. Digital agencies hold tools to measure and report back on their activities; and in my view, traditional PRs needs to up the ante in terms of being able to prove their efficacy to the businesses who invest in them.
For me, having digital agencies snapping at our heels is a positive development. It will force agencies and the industry as a whole to work harder and make traditional engagement a relevant and reliable investment. PRs should look to how digital agencies use their metrics, whilst at the same time as using digital insight to inform their strategy. In turn, content produced by PRs can superpower the efficacy of the background work that digital agencies are doing, such as technical SEO to boost brand awareness for clients.
I predict that this blending of the two specialisms will be forced to become more common and result increasingly in digital PR, which brings best of both PR and digital marketing together.
Where there are plenty of nuances to be developed here, the long and short of it is that it is high time that the collision of two very similar fields support one another, and encourage the specialisms of each profession. In this way, PR retains its reputation as necessary to the marketing programme of any good business, whilst remaining confident in its ability to prove its effect on the bottom line through accountability.
By Sophie Wilson, director of sales and marketing at PHA Media
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