Dec 8 2008
I saw the post, I read the comments, I respect the author. But the PR agency versus stand alone social media agency title seemed, well, kind of like an old topic. To be fair, Todd asked a lot of questions about the blurred lines, and what it really means to the definition of his firm: PR or social media. And one very smart answer from Julie Wright said a communications firm (image: Gumbo by fooey).
For the purpose of this discussion, let’s add the advertising firm, just to get the whole group of competitors in there. Sound like a familiar discussion from, say, about a year ago?
1) You need PR to garner earned media and serve as an ombudsman between parties.
2) You also need advertising. Yes, you do. Good, snappy calls to action need to be integrated as companions to social media, and brief copy writing skills are critical! The problem with advertising is the lack of authenticity.
3) Which brings us to the social media wonk. The wonk, expert, or personality gets the media form from a networking perspective, but without some sort of relevant professional experience, couldn’t communicate their way out of a box in a real marcom job.
4) The old 1.0 boutique — the interactive agency — is needed. Why, can you the reader design? No, online design is an art in itself and you also need the SEO portion of the formula. We are thrilled to have had Viget design this site and blog.
5) Every gumbo has its spices, and here on the Buzz Bin we give away our recipe secrets. How about some customer services, business developments skills (you know, Networking), a dash of legal to avoid trouble, and finally just some good old fashioned non-business writing.
Welcome to the new era of communications. It’s a virtual jumbalaya of disciplines and you need a little of everything. All of the semantics are the various business owners (like myself) and professionals trying to get their slice of the pie.
It’s all irrelevant because some PR firms like SHIFT will evolve and take a slice. We still get a lot of business from companies that have been burned by PR firms in this regard so I’ll add that SHIFT is not the normal firm. But sooner or later PR firms will integrate.
Ad agencies will get some, and so will interactive firms. And they, too, seem to struggle, more with conversations and communities. At the same time they excel at design, SEO, applications, and social network marketing.
Boutiques like myself or the Social Media Group’s Maggie Fox will become social media stand-alone boutiques. Many of us have a background in journalism, interactive, PR or advertising (For example, I have all three, but mostly PR). But we’ll be specialists, and we’ll always be forced to integrate into larger marketing and communications initiatives. We’ll always be forced to play nice with big PR firms and ad agencies. We may even get swallowed up by them.
And we’ll all fight over the semantics. That’s a conversation that doesn’t really matter to me any more. It is what it is.
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