Should PR and Advertising Learn to Play in the Sandbox Together?

By Micaeh Johnson, Managing Director Carte Blanche Ltd, PR Practioner

Public Relations and Advertising acting as two separate disciplines is very 2012. If as a PR practitioner you have not evolved your business model or thought process into involving your advertising partners, you are late.  Journalists caught on about 4 years ago, that public relations professionals are now, not only their friends, but as their positions were downsized, PR professionals are now their colleagues and confidants.  Much like how journalists have evolved their network and changed professions, it is now important to not only not compete against our advertising partners for space, respect and dollars, but to now include them in our new business pitches and to maintain value when doing business with our like clients.

According to CareerCast.com Public Relations was noted as one of the top 10 most stressful jobs in 2012.  If nothing else, it is important to our healthy longevity in the profession to carve out ways to decrease the level of stress caused by our career choice. So rather than causing more stress attempting to beat out our advertising exec partners for more worth, client interfacing and cash, here is what value public relations practitioners bring to their advertising partners and clients, why you should collaborate and how to forge a genuine strong partnership. With the right finessing, work ethic, proper execution, and respect for complementary disciplines, the partnership becomes a win for clients and partner agencies alike.

What unique value does Public Relations bring to an integrated marketing and branding campaign:

1. According to the Fall of Advertising and Rise of PR PR creates the brand and Advertising defends the brand.  In a saturated media space, audiences are growing more and more savvy by the minute and less likely to believe advertising is selling them something that they need or is communicating the legitimate functions of an advertised product or service.  Advertising then becomes more of an art form than a tool of persuasion to increase sales. Insert Public Relations, which in its simplest form is, earned media rather than paid media.  Earned by powerfully persuading a third party that has a voice on a large platform, without paying them to do so, to talk positively about a specific product, personal brand or service. Audiences are more likely to believe their favorite media source over an advertisement that could have a 2M-dollar price tag for lets say a Super Bowl Sunday commercial. PR them becomes the leader by creating the brand and advertising follows by drilling in and defending the brand through multiple channels.

2. Public Relations practitioners are tapped into the community. Our jobs are to be at the pulse of what is trending. We are also expected to not only know what is going on in the news, but to know those who are creating the news.  Our network of newsmakers, influencers, and celebrities can create and extend and give life to any advertising and marketing campaigns. By maintaining authentic relationships with influencers and newsmakers, we become valuable to our advertising and marketing partners.

3. Many successful PR practitioners were once considering a career in Journalism but changed our career paths after a Journalism 101 class or our first paycheck at a newspaper.  Even though we altered this course, we maintained our role and abilities as writers.  We therefore can contribute successfully to copywriting, client decks and new business pitches. Writing in a way that is not only clear and concise, but also persuasive.

Why should PR and Advertising Practitioners and Agencies Partner?

1. The lines between marketing and public relations have become blurred.  The New Rules of Marketing and PR, communicates how the Internet has contributed to an imprecise division of the two disciplines.  Both marketers and public relations practitioners contribute to content on the web, one of the leading resource tools for audiences.  It becomes vital for these, once separate departments to work collectively to ensure brand consistently in messaging and creative.

2. Clients are looking for full service agencies. When Public Relations is not a part of your service offerings or vice versa, both agencies risk losing the opportunity to procure new business as well as the opportunity for increased revenue and billing.

3. The art and skill of Public Relations is becoming more popular but no more understood.  More PR Practitioners are entering the field but not necessarily with the education, knowledge and experience that the field requires. With this increase in PR professionals, potential clients are becoming jaded about the field overall. It becomes critical for seasoned professionals to evolve their business model with complementary disciplines in a noncompeting environment in order for their businesses to functionally and emotionally flourish and beat out competitors with less experience and knowledge of the industry as well as continue to build client confidence.

Finally, how do you forge a partnership amongst once competing disciplines?

1. Start the conversation.  Come prepared to sell yourself.  And reach out to you advertising partners with critical case studies to prove your value and worth. Ultimately, marketers and advertising execs are leading the conversations with potential and current clients and they control the budgets. Understand that your partners may not understand how you can bring value to their clients and their teams intially so do your homework and tell them how.

2. Tell them what you can bring to the table. Even today with an infinite amount of platforms to tell your clients stories on, earned media is still not guaranteed. So how else can you bring value while you are planting seeds with the media?  Consider contributing to the conversations amongst creative teams and writers, by offering advice on what is current and trending to their creative campaigns. Speak with experiential and event teams on what events and experiences can create potential news. Integrate your network into creative campaigns and events by making a single phone call to make your partners lives easier.

3. Consider assisting with their business development and internal PR. Can you reach out to B-to-B media for media ops specifically about the work you and your partners are producing for clients? Can you contribute to the award submissions for your partners? Do you make yourself available to pitch new business outside of the current business you and your partner are working on?

With the right relationships, conversations, team energy, similar missions and work ethic, this partnership will beat out the best astrological love match.

Follow up reading:

– Brands that operated with no advertising but PR campaigns only, starbucks, body shop, amazon.com, yahoo, google, harry potter

– Public Relations joins advertising at AHAA conference