I wish I had a nickel for every ad agency that is finally waking up to the fact that the old ways of doing things just don’t cut it anymore. Suddenly they all want to be in the PR business. Yes, gone are the days when PR was either squeezed out of the play altogether or added on as an afterthought. Today, more and more, public relations is driving the bus. Still, most of these ad agency converts think they can simply apply their old strong arm techniques to deliver PR results. News bulletin: it’s not going to work.
Back when ad agencies bought their space they could fill it with any old crap they wanted. But try that with professional journalists – or even better try it with consumer journalists. It just won’t pass the smell test. We are still getting client advertising agencies coming up with cheap marketing tricks and then turning to us and saying – “It’s a great stunt, go get the media to cover it.” They just don’t seem to understand that journalists are not going to come out to write about some obvious marketing stunt. They want legitimate news, not some pop-up product display.
The trigger for this particular rant was prompted by a publication that fell out of my Globe and Mail the other day. Apparently Strategy is co-published by Brunico with the Globe and Mail. Under a story headline, “The New Brand Relationship” writer Emily Wexler reveals yet another celebrated ad agency that is “realigning” its operations and offering around new ways of involving consumers. Guess what? They have added a PR division. Which I suppose should provide those of us who have been labouring in the trenches for some time a few self-congratulatory “I told you so’s.” Seems the launch of this new division will reflect the evolving nature of the brand-consumer relationship – going beyond dialogue to “truly involve the consumer.” So when you get past the marketing speak what do they have in mind?
According to the upstart – who shall go nameless here – the old way of doing PR is to try to be part of the news. They are going to try to create the news. Yup that’s what they said. Well I am not even going to comment on the arrogant ignorance this reveals about a practice that has been the unsung rescuer of many a pathetic advertising plan for the past 75 years or so. But what do you think they mean? You got it. More stunts to try to con people into shilling their products. Yup that’s going to work. For sure.