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Monday, June 06, 2005

Agnosticism 

What would PR be like if we objectively recommended the medium that best fits any target audience, whether or not we got to do the work? It would be quite different, especially in the agency world where we work to sell our time. Yet, if we were honest counselors, we would tell clients that this problem would be better solved using advertising, or direct mail or a web page or an event, or something other than publicity. We would think in integrated marketing terms, rather than in PR terms.

I'm afraid that few of us do that and those of us in agencies would lose our jobs if we offered too much objective counseling. We say it is up to the client to tell us what the client needs. We assume if the client comes to us, the client has determined that the communications challenge needs PR. That's not a right assumption, of course, because clients don't always know what they need. They depend on communications experts to advise them. But rather than being media agnostics, an advertising creative will come up with an ad solution, a direct mail creative with a drop, a PR person with publicity or an event. In other words, we all sell what we know and not necessarily what a client needs. This is why I am scratching through yet another article examining media agnosticism (a mouthful). It is an old issue. Communications combines have been confronting it for years, but from what little I know, it doesn't seem as if many of them have made much progress.

What I would like to know is whether PR practitioners have made any progress. I think I have an answer, but I would like to hear from you.

Comments:
the way i see it, there are two areas of communications that can honestly be viewed as timeless and always necessary -- public relations (in the broad sense, and not just events) and web... the latter is, of course, a more recent development, but looking forward, i don't see how any company can reach its marketing objectives without putting a fair amount of attention towards that medium... and pr, compared to advertising or direct mail, is always relevant and useful, and delivers value
 
My 2 cents -- do we as PR professionals consider PR as a vital component to a marketing initiative or program (which WILL be measured, by the way)? If we do, then we will make better decisions about if/when to plug PR into the mix.

On the flip side, are we willing to allow PR to pick up the crumbs (in situations where clients say they don't want to spend money on a more expensive and integrated marketing program). If we allow this to happen, not only are we allowing clients to devalue what we do, but we are setting ourselves up to fail.
 
Jim, in my opinion it is not only a issue of "honesty". The point is: have PR practitioners marketing culture enough to give clients the best indications ? Do they have an "integrated marketing view" ?
 

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