PR & paid media: a new reality?

A number of smart PR agencies seem to be setting up new paid media divisions of late. First, Edelman announced its hire of Cassell Kroll as vice president, media strategy operating out of the firm’s digital arm. Shortly afterwards We Are Social revealed their new paid media offering, with ex-TBG Digital sales and client services director, David Gilbert, as Media Director. It is fascinating to see how the increasing convergence of owned, earned and paid media channels is rapidly driving organisational innovation in order to remain relevant and competitive. As We Are Social’s Global Managing Director, Robin Grant, puts it:

“Today’s social environment demands that media planning be integrated into brands’ social media strategies and for media buying to operate in real-time and in synergy with always-on social content creation and community management.”

Edelman also outlines its perspective on the contemporary converged media landscape that gives some rationale for their hire into a wider context and outlines nicely how the agency approaches digital in an increasingly integrated way:

The insights reflected in Edelman and We Are Social’s new business models and strategic offerings are part of wider trends I reiterate to my students when we discuss future directions for the PR industry. The reality is the PR industry they are learning about is arguably becoming less and less like industry they’re seeing represented in textbooks and also (perhaps worryingly) discussed by *some* senior industry speakers.

It’s also something that plays into my thoughts and speculation about the continued need to proactively innovate. The challenges and opportunities of social are ‘live’; that is to say they’re continual emerging meaning leading agencies or practitioners need to stay entrepreneurial in their approach to navigating this new media and communications landscape. This requires thinking freshly about what PR is now and where it’s going – or more specifically being taken by the flows of the social web.

Having worked with Edelman and We Are Social, this is a trait I can confidently say is present within the agencies’ senior leadership and embodied in employees. It must be there in others too undoubtedly, but how can we join up this thinking to ensure that ‘entrepreneurial’ agenda remains a priority – not just at the micro-level of individual agencies or organisations but more broadly at the macro, sector level.

I appreciate this is no small task requiring a focus on collaboration, rather than competition and again, potentially across sectors as well as organisations. Maybe it is already happening through industry events (but it’s not something I’ve come across recently). It’s an exciting time with a number of equally exciting opportunities for the PR industry; the question remains: how can we maximise these opportunities to ensure their strategic potential is realised? Hopefully more to come on this.

Networked Campaigning in the Third Sector

I was asked to deliver a lecture to final year PR and advertising students at Southampton Solent University late last year and thought it would be good to share my slides. The lecture was about how non-profit organisations can adapt to deliver communications and marketing activity in the contemporary socially networked world.

It was an hour lecture, but I have added in some additional material that addresses how some of the ideas raised in the lecture can be implemented within organisations. This detail draws heavily on the  thinking myself and ex-colleague, Marcus Hickman, worked up for a session with Oxfam UK when we worked at We Are Social.

Would love to hear any feedback!



Some new stuff on social business

Apologies for the radio silence. If there's anyone still hanging on the edge of their seat for a new post, I've been busy working and PhD-ing. Sorry.

But I thought it was worth posting a couple of links to blog posts I've published over on the We Are Social blog, predominently about a new area of practice in which we've been doing a fair bit of thinking and doing.

Firstly, there's a piece about social customer service – what it is; how organisations can integrate it into their marketing and communictions activity – and hopefully how they can get it right!

Secondly, there's a post reflecting on the transition more and more clients are starting to make once they've launched and embedded social media marketing programs. More often we're seeing clients going from being a 'social brand' to becoming a 'social business'.

Enjoy – and hopefully I'll be back around these parts soon 🙂


Two post-event analyses of the #DEBill by me

As you might have seen in my previous
somewhat splenetic call to action
against the Digital Economy Bill the past few
weeks have been spent with my blood pressure rather high.

Perhaps out of therapy – or merely because
it’s offered a fascinating case study of how social media can be used to
potentially open up some form of direct democracy – I’ve pulled together a
couple of blog posts on the subject.

The posts broadly cover the use of social
media to campaign against the bill and the – I argue – ground-breaking way Twitter
was used to report the crucial debates in real-time as well as engage with
politicians mid-debate.

The first post was published over on We
Are Social's (i.e. my work's) blog
while the second was guest posted over at Royal Holloway University’s
New Political Communications Unit blog