I remember few years back when Social media was in its infancy and people were just catching up with viral world, many in the PR business believed that it’s their right to rule this new found media as they are the ones who have an understanding of crafting messages that could communicate client’s business to its stakeholders. Many senior professionals on the other hand went ahead and proclaimed that this is just a fad and will soon be bust just like a dot com industry.
While the PR leaders were still undecided over investing money and resources in the new media, our advertising cousins went ahead and set up subsidiaries to exclusively focus on the digital business and offer integrated services to their clients. In between there were some tech savvy or just opportunistic young and smart entrepreneurs who started their own standalone digital shops from a garage kind of a setup.
Today these standalone agencies, having started small, are the ones generating maximum billing and also have a very impressive client roaster. While PR agencies tried to pitch their content generation capabilities in driving engagements on social media, advertising agencies focussed on their creative side to engagement with their client’s audience. The standalone agencies tried to create a best of both world approach by poaching youngsters from both businesses and offering solutions that addressed most requirements of brands on the digital platforms.
PR agencies who then believed that Social media can only be driven by content and clients will be happy to sign their digital wings to take advantage of an integrated approach are still waiting for the windfall.
And now there is another wave of business approaching us or rather already created its need within the marketing environment and that is Content marketing. We always believed and spoke aloud that ‘Content is King’, but never actually went on to either monetize or build & enhance our content creation capabilities. The result of this is that again talented entrepreneurs have seized the opportunity and have successfully grown their content marketing businesses.
PR Daily recently reported that organizations’ are creating their own media outlets. Companies such as Dell, Coca-Cola, and IBM are creating what looks like—and in many ways is—a journalistic product. Clients hire these firms to churn out by-lined articles, white-papers, advertorials, blog posts, and even Facebook and Twitter posts. Some agencies even deliver high quality video content, given the growth of video sharing platforms.
These agencies have also been hired by many publications and have outsourced their special supplements and supplements promoted by their marketing departments. Also given the commercialization of media and increasing influence of paid editorials, this business is heading only northwards.
It’s high time now, that we start seeing beyond media relations and start looking at more strategic requirements of brand and marketing departments on the whole. There is no doubt that many PR firms have established in-house capabilities for content creation, but that is rather sporadic than a norm within the agency. It is imperative for every PR agency to atleast have desk (like in the publication house) to screen and edit every piece of content that goes out to the client or to the media.
If we don’t act now, even this business will soon slip out of our hands and we will continue chasing only journalists. And wait, even journalists have been shifting to these content marketing firms, rather than PR agencies for better prospects and pay packets.