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Integrated Marketing: Maybe It’s Not Called PR Anymore

A little more than a year ago, our CEO remarked to the effect that marketing looks a lot more like PR. His comment is reminiscent of the Cluetrain Manifesto, which was published more than a decade ago, and declared that markets are conversations.

Conversations are a concept that effective PR people, especially media relations pros, have always understood.  Unlike traditional models of paying for advertising placements, PR was a dialogue where an organization earned the opportunity to speak with a journalist with an interesting idea that had value for a given media audience.

Today, that same principle is applied in social media.  We earn the right to have conversations with fans and followers with interesting ideas and two-way dialogue.  The consequence has almost completely erased the blurring of lines between marketing and PR.

It’s hard to argue we’re *just* PR pros or we’re *just* marketers anymore.  Those days – and the need for those days – are gone.  We’ve been assimilated, joined and fused together – we are hybrid professionals as Deirdre Breakenridge so aptly calls it.  The future lies in the integration of all the sub-functions falling under the art and science formerly known as marketing.

I’m reminded of this every time Advertising Age writes, or publishes a post about public relations.  Not too long ago, such posts, let alone award winners, were far and few between; today a writer is assigned to PR as a beat.

More specifically, Timothy Kane’s recent guest post really stood out.

“In the same way that the mass-market culture of the 1950s created the need for brands, today’s social-technical culture is forcing brands to employ a new model for interacting with the public. A model based not in the slow-drip Chinese water torture of traditional advertising, but in the kind of focused dialogue that public relations specializes in.”

The future of advertising, Kane says conclusively, is public relations. I’d argue his idea is compelling and it appeals to my PR roots, but even the examples he provides, like the infamous Old Spice campaign, demonstrate it never has been, nor should it be about one or the other.

The two should and do go hand-in-hand under a model of integrated marketing.  After all, markets are conversations.

Photo credit:  Ogilvy PR’s 360 Digital Influence

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