By Dan Whitney
Marketing and PR are no longer separate, or even complementary disciplines. They are one and the same.
In agency land it’s comforting to think of marketing agencies as distinct from PR agencies. It balances books, it inflates agency rosters and it maintains the all-important status quo. After all, two specialist marketing and PR agencies are better than one, right?
In the agency mix, all too often marketing and PR agencies become embroiled in a roles and responsibilities land grab. Two separate agencies battling it out for the budgetary spoils.
Separate agencies with separate agendas.
Multiple agencies covering distinct marketing and PR functions isn’t just an ROI risk, it’s also a messaging consistency risk, particularly with so many channels to oversee.
In the past decade marketing and PR channels have increased rapidly at a breakneck pace. With more opportunities than ever to reach audiences at every touchpoint of their digital and analogue journeys, it's inevitable that the lines between PR and marketing have become blurred.
The advent of social media management and influencer marketing was arguably the first clue that marketing and PR were beginning to converge. Social offers incredible opportunities for personalised messaging – that’s marketing. But also provides the opportunity to interact with brand advocates and build relationships – which is PR.
Influencer marketing further muddied the waters. Replacing, or at least augmenting, traditional marketing channels, while providing another parallel PR channel to traditional PR/journalist comms.
With disciplines such as online reputation management complicating matters further, and PR and marketing agencies boasting so many complementary and competing skillsets, it’s often difficult to distinguish between them.
But there’s one area that PR agencies excel that marketing agencies – at least up to this point – haven't strayed into. PR in itself is the management of a narrative. That goes beyond mere campaign messaging to seeding a story and ensuring that messaging is on-brand, regardless of which outlet that message emanates from.
That’s distinct from the ’storytelling’ we so often hear about these days from marketing agencies. PR shapes the story for others to tell, rather than disseminating it itself… and if that sounds familiar, it’s the very reason PR agencies are as adept at influencer marketing as they are at journalist outreach.
The clients that question their agency rosters and who make the move to combine these disciplines, will in the short-term see greater alignment of key messages and stories – elevating the brand above the competition.
From a longer-term perspective, there is a real opportunity to plan and activate through the line campaigns that communicate to the audience consistently at every touch point. The brands that start to understand the entire communications and storytelling journey, and join up the dots between PR and marketing, are the ones that will ultimately have a more consistent voice and greater success.
This is all great for the brand – but crucially, by combining these disciplines into one shop, they maximise their budgets and become a leaner, more efficient marketing outfit delivering greater returns on the investment.
So when you consider where your marketing and PR spend is going this year, it’s worth thinking about your agency roster and looking at the economies of both in monetary terms and in simplicity of messaging (not to mention time spent briefing agencies) that could be exploited by bringing marketing and PR functions under one roof.
At Allison + Partners we have an agile planning process that delivers a holistic go to market program across paid, earned, shared and owned media. This allows us to apply a consistent message along the entire customer journey, effectively building the brand narrative and driving measurable results.
If you’d like to learn more, get in touch, we’d love to explore what’s possible.
MD Content strategies Europe