The Lines Are Blurring

The lines between public relations, marketing and advertising are blurring.

This likely won’t be news to anyone who has followed this space for a while, or who works in the agency business, but it’s something I’ve thought about a lot recently.

A few things spurred this thinking:

1. We recently pitched a potential client with not just a public relations and social media plan, but also with a creative, branding and guerilla marketing plan. It makes sense – we have people and skills for it – but I did do a double-take during the preparation. Once I’d consciously realized the shift, it made me stop and think.

2. Mitch Joel, who I’ve always thought of as a digital marketer, wrote a post about how to pitch journalists and referred to himself as “…a PR professional since the late eighties” in the comments.

3. Listening to an episode of Marketing Over Coffee featuring Eric Schwartzman, Schwartzman listed the following three topics as a PR practitioner’s top priorities:

  • Your company’s website (which converts awareness to action)
  • Email campaigns (because email has such a high rate of adoption)
  • Search engine optimization (because people turn to search engines to find their information)

People have written about this many times before; however it’s been on my mind more than usual recently. It’s indicative of a fundamental shift that communication-related disciplines are undergoing as digital tools and a changing media landscape mould the environment in which we work. It’s something that more clients seem to be asking for.

It’s also part of the reason that I believe pure-play agencies, whether they focus on social media, public relations or any other discipline, need to adapt and evolve by incorporating other disciplines in their work in order to survive.

Have you noticed this shift? Do you find yourself pitching for – or doing – work that you might have considered outside your discipline five years ago?

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.