PR agencies are running scared as they are struggling to keep pace with the digital world! I recently took part in an Online PR Roundtable last week, hosted by e-consultancy the link takes you to the summary report of the session. In attendance were a number of major brands, some PR specialists including liberate media; Hotwire and Simon Collister...and myself.
A lot was discussed within the two hours, including some time being taken up for some unnecessary and shameless sales pitches. Most prefixed by the phrase "We work with (insert big brand here) and we're just bloody brilliant"...or words to that effect. However, the main talking points were around the questions of :-
What is online PR? Who owns online PR?
In summary, and this is naturally steered by my own opinion :-
Online PR is traditional PR...but using the web. No surprises there then! But the whole debate around who owns Online PR in itself raises the issue that traditional PR agencies don't own it. They have quite clearly been out paced by the Internet (especially with the phenomenal growth of social media). This was highlighted by one of the more vocal PR gurus when they stated quite confidently that Paid Search and Natural Search should be treated as two separate "Marketing" channels. Those in the digital world could give thousands (well quite a few) of examples of the importance of an integrated search strategy and how it can greater efficiencies and higher degrees of success. Anyway, it is clear that, in general, PR agencies don’t understand the digital channels, but are great at PR. Digital agencies have seized this opportunity, and know exactly how to work with and integrate the digital channels for best public reach...but they don’t know PR.
Those PR and Digital agencies who are prepared to admit this situation and work in collaboration or even merge will help their customers achieve great things.