The Gong

The mostly official blog of the Hodges Partnership.

The PR person of the future and the dreaded “I” word.

January 13, 2009 | by Jon Newman

Eveytime anyone describes anything with the phrase "--------- of the future" I'm reminded of the old Honeymoomers skit (me, dating myself), where Norton asks "Can it core a apple?" and Ralph "hamene, hamene's" his way through the rest of the 1950's style infomercial.

In this "mashed up" world of marketing (more on mashed up in a few) where the blur between advertising, public relations, design, social and viral marketing, etc. is increasing by the second, I find that many folks in those disicplines answer with the same "hamene, hamene" when clients ask them "can you do that for me?"

In her recent blog post Beth Harte explores many things including the empty promises of social marketing firms, the PR person of the future (cool video included), and this blur or "mashed up" world of marketing and what it means for firms and clients.

Beth describes the age old issue of how the firms' different disciplines creep into each other's territory and create an alphbet soup for clients.  She even dredges up in the infamous "I-word," integrated.

Having worked for agencies big and small, and having worked at PR firms that have been part of larger, very successful ad agencies, it is my experience that the I-word, while it sounds good in principle, rarely works in practice.  Ad agencies are successful because they produce good advertising based on sound brand research.  PR firms are successful because they take that brand messaging and apply best PR practices and tactics to support the brand.  In turn, good social marketing (and firms who say they do social marketing) should apply those same principles to against the tools it has to support the brand and in turn drive business for the client or organization.

What happens when you try to sell all the disciplines is that you lead with what you are good and try to get by with everything else.  In the end, the client loses and then you lose the client.

We find it is better to lead with your strength and then find partners who can do their specialties as well as you do your's.

My business partner came up with this saying a long time ago and it serves us well, "we know what we do well, and more importantly, we know what we don't do well.  For that stuff, we have friends that we can bring in."

Our specialty is public relations and everything it encompasses.  We are learning and are getting better every day at social marketing.  We are not ad people, or designers, or direct marketers, or media buyers.  We have friends that do that and we partner with them often.  It has been successful for us and for our clients.

While I agree with John Bell's 13 skills of the PR Pro of the future, I'm glad to see that it doesn't seem to be blurring into these other specialties and it is still deeply rooted in the basic communications skills that all PR pros should have.

It is when the lines blur too much and we try to do to many other things that we may hear ourselves say out loud "hamene, hamene."

Picture of Jon Newman

Jon Newman

Jon worked on-air and in management at a number of radio and TV news organizations in New Jersey, Tennessee and Virginia before joining The Martin Agency. He parlayed his media background into national media placements for countless clients, and that media relations focus is still a core competency at The Hodges Partnership. As the media landscape has changed, Jon’s focus now also includes social and digital media. Read all posts by Jon Newman »

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Picture of Bruce McConnel

By Bruce McConnel on January 20, 2009

Hi John…I remember when we were blast faxing press the latest survey results out of the war room at MPR in the earlier part of the decade and now look at you, a blog!  We don’t know much about much at IBM but we did gather some folks together to contribute their thinking on the the New Media trend. A few of those thoughts were published as part of our recent Global Innovation Outlook report…I’ve included the link in the event that you or your readers are interested.  One of the more interesting (and topical) subjects is the “Context is King” chapter…a deep dive on where, in the media landscape, the $$ is and will being made on the content value chain. As they say, follow the money ;-)
Hope you are well and keep up the great postings!
Bruce
IBM New Media GIO: http://domino.research.ibm.com/comm/www_innovate.nsf/pages/world.gio3.media.html

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