President, Managing Partner

“The Times They Are a-Changin’” could be a theme song for the PR industry. We read, we hear, and we repeat these fundamentals: lines are blurred, fully integrated is required, and social is everywhere. At this point, we all know these are truths, not suppositions.

But it’s one thing for something to be fact, and quite another for an industry to respond strategically to that fact. And this insight may be the best place to start when it comes to handling changes in the marketplace.

Traditionally, if PR has seen itself as representing a company’s story, and advertising has been seen as selling the brand, then it makes sense that in a world where the two are integrated, or blended, PR’s role should reflect that blending.

If we look at PR as strategic brand managing, or as brand direction, we can do a better job of meeting the needs of clients on both sides. Inviting everyone into the room under the leadership of a brand planner is a good first step. Then begin to explore the levers, drawing balance or appropriate levels around disciplines to meet the objectives. This becomes the focus of the agency/client relationship and the reflection of the shared strategy.

The most effective strategy will always be the result of understanding capabilities and objectives, and knowing how to blend research with insight, visual with narrative, and creative with journalistic. If a client is looking for top-of-mind awareness, the blend may favor the creative and paid. If the client is looking for understanding or awareness around issues or perception, then the blend might need to favor PR and earned.

Thinking broadly and having a deep understanding of the strengths and skills of one versus the other will enable PR talent today to make good strategic calls on behalf of their clients and be seen as leaders on the disappearing line between disciplines.

To hear more, listen to Julie Batliner’s episode on the Agencies of the Future podcast.