Posted on | October 12, 2007 | No Comments
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.–I spent the last couple of days down here in the sun listening to speakers talk about all things digital. The gathering was Hill and Knowlton’s first Digipalooza gather of digital mavens from around the world. (H&K owns Blanc & Otus, so I got an invite).
The highlights? Definitely three. Paul Gillin, who wrote “The New Influencers,” David Meerman Scott, who wrote “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” and Paul Taaffe, H&K’s chairman and chief executive.
Gillin went long on the effect social-media trends are having on mainstream media, where it costs $20 million to start a metropolitan daily. And that ain’t happenin’.
â€œThereâ€™s nothing mainstream media can do about this. Itâ€™s too late,â€ he said. As for PR, “Your messaging is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Markets more segmented, content and credibility are king,” he said.
Scott was a bit bolder. He said technologists owned the web in the 90s and they blew it. Advertising has tried to own it since 2000 and they’ve blown it. PR is in excellent position to take over the relationship. “It’s about story-telling and PR is all about story-telling,” he said.
Taaffe echoed a lot of those themes, but being the CEO, was blunt: You have a perfect opportunity to capitalize on these trends, own the relationship and increase the value proposition. If you don’t, you’ll be irrelevant in 24 months.
But PR’s problem is, well, everyone’s problem in a shifting landscape: legacy. Most agencies (like most publishing companies) do what they do best, whatever that is, and evolving to new models is really difficult. It echoes Clayton Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma, in which the cash cow revenue streams keep companies from shifting into new modes.
What PR needs to do is hire new skill sets into influential positions to kick-start the evolutionary process. Journalists have made the switch for years, but largely for their relationships and writing abilities. Today (in my case), the graybeards get pulled over to be that new skill set above and beyond writing.
The bad news is there’s not much time for agencies to get it right. That’s also the good news too.
Nothing like a deadline to get the juices flowing.
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