How fast is the communication industry changing? Industry analyst Paul Holmes recently told partners at the Worldcom AGM in Brussels, Belgium, “the pace of change has never been greater –and it will never be this slow again.”
Fueling this change is the convergence of communication disciplines, which has ramifications for companies and communication professionals alike. For decades, various communication disciplines have been largely siloed. While some agencies present an integrated front, it is rare that efforts are led by an objective overarching strategy but rather are compromised, according to Holmes, by which profit center is most dominant –or by which executive is most persuasive in selling his or her division internally and externally and reaping subsequent bonuses.
Today, advertising and PR are racing in a proverbial land rush to stake a claim in new media--and overall market share-- as the lines between the two disciplines become increasingly blurred. While PR is working to become more versant in creative and content-focused offerings, advertising is rushing to better understand media relations and reputation management. Additionally, large management consultant firms that specialize in strategy are also in the race, trying to adapt to and integrate with all communication disciplines.
PR isn’t just media relations. PR is rooted in the fundamentals of strategic planning and really understanding the needs and behaviors of who you’re trying to reach. It’s also about understanding how all communications connect with and complement each other and using the most appropriate means of telling stories in interesting, meaningful and effective ways.
What does this transformation mean for companies and their communication professionals? The constantly changing business and communication playing field is creating challenges and opportunities. As a result, additional roles and responsibilities are constantly being required and added to the plates of in-house communication professionals. Their ability to understand and assimilate, including identifying the right partners to help them develop solid strategy and navigate through a full spectrum of communication disciplines, is paramount.
“CMOs have been trained to look to advertising agencies for solutions. They don’t understand that PR pros are capable – more capable of developing strategy and big ideas to move their brand forward,” Holmes said, pointing out the gulf between advertising and PR is quickly closing.
Who will win out? According to Holmes, it will be the teams that can develop and provide the greatest strategy with a deep skillset that transcends traditional communication boundaries.
Worldcom partners from nearly 100 PR firms, including Intrepid, continue to collaborate on this shift and share best practices in adapting to this fast-changing world. PR agencies absolutely must commit to developing deeper strategy and mastering diverse capabilities in order to execute holistically across communication disciplines. This broader shift will require recruiting and training well-rounded communication professionals who are both analytical and nimble in their ability to understand how to develop strategy to connect audiences and to creatively keep pace with the evolution of digital communications.