Oh no, because I believe deeply that the only way forward for any company dedicated to performance marketing is pervasive integration; it’s what ArCompany is built on and how we not only make companies truly social businesses, but how we measure, analyze and refine strategy.
Oh no, because Jayme is a friend of mine, and sometimes disagreeing within the Social Marketing bubble is tricky.
I admire Jayme. I respect the discipline of Public Relations. I also know that silos occur within marketing departments, and they are destructive.
Jayme’s blog touched an emotional/professional nerve and the comment section became highly engaged over the topic.
We Are All in Sales
I’m an old Sales hand at heart, and I learned a long time ago from one of the most brilliant men I’ve worked with that we are all in sales. In the hard scrabble manufacturing business, Royce Renfroe made lots of companies lots of money, and one of his most often quoted sayings was:
If you’re not making it or selling it, you ain’t shit.
When he elaborated on that he would tell you that every single employee had to see themselves in sales, because selling our product paid all of our salaries. We need to be united in doing everything we could to sell more product, and every step the company made was aimed in that direction.
We were ALL in Sales.
The Blur of Sales with EVERYTHING is Essential
A very long time ago I came to the conclusion that PR is Social is Sales is Marketing. However, I believe PR planning and strategy has to permeate all of them.
PR (or Public Relations as I like to call it to remind everyone that PR and Publicity are not the same thing) needs to be at the foundation of all Marketing/Sales efforts.
What I see on an almost daily basis are companies who launch full steam into a ‘marketing’ or ‘social marketing’ campaign with NO consideration for the PR ramifications. When they’re caught off guard or cause a social media maelstrom, they become fodder for our Sunday posts on the social mob mentality.
PR is a Discipline
When I am ‘corrected’ by PR professionals for saying that your every interaction with your customers is your PR, it often comes out as “PR is a Discipline, and cannot be mixed in with the rest of Marketing.” What does that mean?
Here are the two most spot on definitions I could find to describe what, exactly, PR is:
Miriam-Websters: the business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, firm, or institution; also :the degree of understanding and goodwill achieved.
It is very clear that PR skills are not intuitive or learned overnight; I understand the bemoaning of the loss of an educational foundation that many old school PR pros express.
I realize that education, including on the job training, is essential, and I believe very deeply that experience matters. I have dealt with many large and small potential PR disasters in my career; I know that Amy at 25 was in no way as prepared as Amy at 40-ish to handle a PR backlash.
A huge part of handling a crisis is knowing to step back and disconnect emotion from your decision, and think like a business person. Experience matters.
I also understand that PR is not simply about handling crises. I understand that PR is an essential skill/discipline/knowledge base.
I also believe that what underlies some of these discussions about What is the Definition of PR’ is fear of change; I know – I’m touching a nerve here.
PR pros are not alone in being exhausted by the rapid pace of change social media lightening speed communication has wrought, and all communications fields have had to deal with massive upheaval in the past decade. Lots of professions are struggling with the the fact that their career foundations have change profoundly.
The Truth is We Must Change or Die
It is not fair for me to level this statement at PR Professionals singularly; the reality is that change is necessary for businesses large and small. Instead of using my words I’ll quote two of the most forward thinkers I know:
In a private conversation about this via email, Danny Brown, a tremendous thought leader (and yes, he’s an Arcompany Principal) said this:
Digital has changed everything, and adaptation to the new is crucial. I’d also say the issue is less with the younger generation not knowing about the “older stuff”, and more to do with poor teachers that want to grab the new buzzwords and seem relevant, versus actually teaching what’s right.
Gini Dietrich has transformed what it means to be a social PR Agency, understanding that Arment Dietrich can’t help its client be successful in one area without integration.
She wrote a post this week called The PR Firm of the Future that succinctly summed up her thoughts on where a forward thinking PR Firm must head.
Her statement on trying to find employees that ‘get it’ clarifies that a shift is taking place that PR Pros must catch up to:
We need people who are a hybrid PR professional: They need to be experts in media and blogger relations, content development, content marketing, workflow development and email marketing, on-page search engine optimization, issues management, and client service. If they can also do some simple WordPress coding, they’ll move to the front of the line.
The Road Forward for PR Professionals/Marketers/Sales
I started this post focusing on Jayme’s blog, but I didn’t get to the point of it; she had just attended a meeting where she was told point blank that SEM and PR are one in the same. She was frustrated because she knew that to be an utter falsehood. She was right.
The comment section of that blog was chalk full of some of the most interesting discussion on What PR Is Now that I have come across.
Andrienne Jandler summed it up so well I have to post the entire comment:
I do think that PR/Marketing/SEO have converged, and necessarily so. But I don’t think that it means even a single element of the traditional PR discipline is (or should be) out of the equation. I think, despite the huge amount of DIY info out there, that PR has gotten more involved and requires still yet greater understanding of the traditional PR foundations. All the elements of PR work that you listed are still important; it’s just that many who haven’t been formally trained in PR don’t realize it (or even know what they are lacking). IMHO, while the disciplines within the field have become muddled in the public eye, those who have that comprehensive background, long-term experience and understanding of the foundations will continue to lead the field (and results for their clients).
The Cross Pollination of Sales/PR/Marketing is Irrevocable
So here’s the deal: it’s never going back to the way it was. We will not have segmented silos of PR/Marketing/Sales and even HR/Product Development etc. in companies that intend on embracing social communication and thriving with the information they can access.
Businesses that grasp the fact that this incredible free flow of consumer conversation is a data field waiting to be harvested, analyzed and utilized company wide will move forward.
The Marketing/PR/Whatever-you-want-to-call-yourselves companies that can help businesses reorganize, monitor, measure and compute the vast amount of information out there will be hugely successful.
Those who stand clinging to their silo-d, outdated internal structures will be left behind.
VP of Content & Strategy at ArCompany. She has an extensive background in Sales, and focuses on generational marketing and content. With Hessie Jones she founded ArCompany’s Millnnnial, GenX and Boomer Think Tanks and writes and speaks on those topics from an insights/strategy perspective.