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Posted by Darika Ahrens on February 14, 2012
I’ve been wondering if the PR role is slipping and if the growth in interactive marketing will make PR agencies largely irrelevant unless they diversify and get wise to online opportunities?
Forrester’s December 2010 US Interactive Marketing Online Executive Panel Survey showed that PR agencies held a respectable fourth place when it came to which agencies are helping with company/brand interactive marketing but the same survey also showed that 68% of marketers were working with at least two or more agencies for their interactive marketing needs (all competing for budgets and control no doubt).
In the 14 months since that survey took place interactive marketing has continued to mature, and I wonder if the full-service interactive agency is growing up and gaining control -- leaving the PR agency behind at the kids table.
PR agencies seem to have left the biggest piece of the interactive marketing pie just sitting on the table. While search agencies diversify to offer services like press release writing and article generation (in fact agencies like iCrossing have entire branded content divisions) many PR agencies aren’t even adopting simple keyword targeting strategies to accompany the content they DO create.
On top of this PR’s greatest skill, influencer relations, is being sullied by cack-handed blogger outreach program consisting of bulk emailing names cut and pasted from a media database. Influence as a subject overall is complex and non-standardized but today’s link-building programs executed by search agencies have a level of sophistication that PR agencies don’t even have as a baseline when seeking online editorial for clients.
Given that PR has digitally relevant skills for search marketing and that interactive marketing budgets in search out-spend other areas PR tries to play in online (like social media) by as much as 900% [2012 interactive marketing spend from the US Interactive Marketing Forecast 2011 - 2016] shouldn’t the PR agency be adapting search capability to avoid extinction? I think yes.