Last week I did an interview with PR Week about the fact 'PR agencies have been forced to question their role in the marketing mix, after advertising firms scooped a slew of awards with PR-led campaigns at the 2009 Cannes Lions Advertising Festival', such as Obama for America, The Great Schlep, and The Best Job in the World.
It's become very clear to me that all agencies are suffering from what I have previously called transition trauma, and this is going to have huge implications for what the agency landscape looks like in five years time. If ad agencies can win using PR techniques, then PR agencies are going to start moving towards ad agency terrain. Fragmentation of media, social media, consumer cynicism, and digital media in general argues for a move towards earned media rather than paid media. The battlefield has moved, and everyone is shooting into the centre ground.
I've been interested in PR ever since I started writing on the social graph as I see the social graph as been centred on PR type strategies. The social graph is about passing on an idea, concept, belief, thought, project etc. that is transmitted digitally. To use the jargon we would call these memes. They propagate themselves and can move through a ‘culture’ in a manner similar to a virus. Virals are memes, as indeed are product recommendations, and chain letters. Nobody has yet fully cracked it. Not even Facebook are 100% clear how this might all work, but the answer is currently more likely to come from an advertising agency than a PR agency.
My explanation for this phenomena caused quite a storm on this blog. Its worth reading the comments and you'll see that I join the debate, as indeed did the journalist who wrote the piece. It seems it's not just the advertising industry in the midst of metaphysical angst.