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SXSW Interactive 2014

Will PR Win the Agency Wars Despite Itself?

It's no secret that agencies of all types -- advertising, social, search, design, digital -- are jumping on the content bandwagon as inbound marketing rises to the top line of corporate marketing budgets. But the surprising laggard in the agency wars has been the public relations industry. From an historical standpoint, the PR industry's failure to take the lead in this new marketing world order is counterintuitive -- after all, earning exposure with good stories rather than paying for it with advertising has been the industry's driving force. Upon analysis, however, the industry's failings have been numerous, from ceding content distribution to advertising firms to gravitating toward less competitive areas, such as crisis communications, social monitoring, and CSR. Is it too late for PR to emerge victorious in this Agency Deathmatch? This session features a spirited debate between two executives active in the PR industry's leading organization, the PRSA.

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  1. Historically, PR practitioners were the first content marketers, and the public relations profession served as the most common career refuge for former journalists. What has prevented the PR industry from leveraging these natural advantages to lead the content marketing revolution?
  2. Both presenters are active members of PRSA and that organization's Counselors Academy. The PRSA recently went through the very public exercise of creating a "new definition of public relations." Does this definition help or hurt the industry? Does it lead PR practitioners forward or hold them back -- or even guide them at all?
  3. Traditionally, small and midsize PR agencies have taken the lead of large firms, such as Fleishman-Hillard, Burson-Marsteller and others, in defining their service offerings. As larger PR firms cede ground in content marketing to focus on less competitive areas like crisis communications, reputation management and the needs of Fortune 500 clients, smaller firms are increasingly losing their compass; their clients want them to help drive sales. Where will PR's strategic leadership come from?
  4. In an ideal world, what should be PR's role in the agency mix? What are the core competencies that it should expand upon with new offerings, and what are the areas that are best left to others? And from the client perspective, what should a corporate marketing department ask -- and not ask -- of its PR firm today?
  5. What is "inbound PR" and what will it mean for the future work and daily lives of PR professionals? What are the new skills needed to thrive in a career in public relations in today's environment?



Taylon Chandler, Writer, Idea Grove

Meta Information:

  • Tags: public relations
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Dual
  • Track: Content and Distribution
  • Level: Intermediate
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