Thursday, May 20, 2004

Pecking Order 

For those who wonder if PR ever will come into its own in the communications combines that rule marketing, I have an answer. Look at the May 17 edition of Advertising Age on the first page of the 17th Annual Marketing Services Agencies Report. There you will find a pecking order in the marketing communications business, and it tells the tale vividly.

Of total expenditures for marketing, 49.3% goes to advertising and media and 13.5% goes to public relations, which is on a par with direct marketing (14.1%). Power goes with money flows. The money in the business still flows into advertising and media. Hence, the heads of combines and important people will be advertising executives.

PR should reconcile itself to its second-citizen status. It has always been that way, and it won't change. The reason it will lag is an issue I have written about too much already -- control. Advertising is controlled-message media -- expensive controlled-message media. Because there are so many dollars involved, marketers pay more attention to its effectiveness than they do to other disciplines, which are not even half the size of advertising and media. With the attention goes power and compensation.

So what is an ambitious young marketer to do who wants to rise in the ranks? The best bet is still advertising, and the risky bet is public relations or direct marketing -- unless one starts a company.

Frankly, I have enjoyed my career as a second-class citizen. It provides me an opportunity to tweak those who are too serious about their jobs. What I do as a PR person is often important. I know that, and those of us who work in PR know that. That's good enough.


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