Will PR Really ‘Rule Native and Social?’

Today in No, We’re Not Tired of This Debate Yet news: Phil Johnson, CEO of PJA Advertising, wrote a story for AdWeek arguing that the whole “moving into creative” trend means that “savvy PR firms” can and should steal social media and native advertising opportunities away from their competitors in the ad and marketing fields — and that those other guys will need to imitate the PR model in order to keep up.

Johnson writes that “forward-thinking public-relations firms have been more adept than advertising agencies at grasping the strategic implications of content marketing”. In making this point he cites recent moves by Edelman and Weber Shandwick as well as Digital Influence Group, “a full-service digital marketing agency with social media at the core”, and Shift Communications, which has been bullish on social for some time.

He also thinks that PR firms have an inherent advantage because native advertising “is conceptually the same as placing press releases that look like independent journalism.” Hmm…

Furthermore, Johnson argues that we PR folk were among the first to jump into the “paid social content” game and that we understand that content marketing isn’t just about making stuff — it’s also about “managing the distribution of content through all of the social channels”. That first description doesn’t sound too flattering, but we’ll go with it.

So how can advertising keep PR from nipping at its heels? According to Johnson, agencies have to:

  • Approach content marketing with a more spontaneous, in-the-moment mindset rather than slaving over perfect works of art
  • Accept that “earned media” is now fodder for ad agencies too. Get out of the comfort zone!
  • Focus more intently on the distribution end of the content equation

So do ad agencies really need to imitate PR firms? Take your time and consider your answer carefully…

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.