2011 seems to be the year when a number of leading PR agencies are ready to duke it out with their digital agency peers over ownership of digital strategy. A recent Economist article casts aspersions on the ability of PR agencies to implement social campaigns, and whether it should be left to stand alone digital “experts”. This view is another example of the aimless agency turf wars that have beset the marketing industry for too long.
At Engine we have the benefit of working in an integrated agency with experts from all disciplines and this has helped formulate MHP’s approach to digital comms. Often the current PR remit for social media work focuses on crisis comms and this is an area where many agencies are comfortable. But, increasingly the cry from the online world is that content is king, and where better to derive content creation than from an integrated agency with a PR offering?
To a certain degree, social media campaigns take PR agencies outside of their comfort zone – digital campaigns demand clear ROI, integration with other digital channels, customer service channels or the creation of online communities. But the modern PR relishes this opportunity – the creation of campaigns with tangible results that remove us from a lot of the woolly definitions that have beset PR in the past.
It seems obvious that in commerce-led campaigns, where sales generation is the key driver, then a PR agency is not necessarily the perfect fit. But within such campaigns there is always the need for original and inspiring content, and also the need for accompany media relations support.
Fundamentally, a silo-ed approached to digital campaigns – whereby they are viewed only though the internet and search engines alone – is wrong. The most successful social media campaigns invariably produce cross over to traditional media. Many of our clients have now lost their online inhibitions and do not differentiate between online and offline media campaigns; they only see media opportunity. Hopefully this approach will become more widespread in 2011 and end the ownership debate, which wastes time and budget.