PR and advertising in a digital age

As a disclaimer, I have no background or footing in public relations. Although I find this talk by Richard Edelman, the CEO of a leading PR firm, to be interesting, I have no basis with which to compare it to what PR has traditionally been. Edelman notes the rapid advancement and challenge of “storytelling at the speed of now.” Even though PR is operating at an unparalleled pace, it must not compromise the quality of its storytelling and abandon its “journalistic mindset.” By espousing a primarily visual approach, these firms can both show and tell stories from a rational and emotional style. Edelman outline the evolution of media, client-roles, and PR agency. With the emergence of content reception on social media and other sharable formats, the boundaries between editor, advertiser, and marketer are blurring: “Editorial is starting to be delivered in ways that borrow what marketers do well, while advertising is starting to embody some of what journalists do well.” Clients are increasingly demanding that brands and corporations concern themselves with “key societal needs,” thereby cementing a level of trust in doing the right thing and fostering shared value. While still adhering to the common goal of communication in providing “information that moves people to action,” PR firms have to seek out and cultivate great ideas from a holistic perspective. They firm strives to create a “living brand” that is purposeful, attuned, participatory, and social by design. Edelman ventures to predict what is new and upcoming in PR. He foresees the diversification of talent within firms to grow. For his own firm, he is hopeful in the collaboration between “developers, analysts, and planners” and people with “journalistic skills and creativity.” Future employers ought to be familiar, optimally fluid, with “SEO, social media community management, digital advertising, content strategy, photography/videography, design, and analytics.” Lastly, Edelman encourages us to break through the framework of conventional wisdom by digesting new ideas with an open mind.

The article “12 Industry Leaders’ Insights on Advertising in 2016” lends an interesting perspective with which to examine advertising. Marketing professionals predict the direction of advertising in 2016. These 12 industry leaders overlapped in their responses, especially in the realms of storytelling, honesty/authenticity, reaching people and creativity repeatedly

  • Storytelling:
    • Karen Zuckerman: “more and more about content, with a focus on storytelling”
    • Richard Wilde: “infusion of honesty, humor and humane dialogue coupled with meaningful storyteller”
    • Tom Bernardin: “at the heart of good content is a good story”
  • Honesty:
    • Tom Bernardin: “Consumers today are also demanding more transparency, more authenticity, and more purpose-driven work from brands”
    • Melissa Rosenthal: “content will need to be increasingly honest, relatable and contextually relevant in order to help shift perceptions”
  • Creativity:
    • Tom Bernardin: “…most powerful opportunities: creativity”
    • Gideon Amichay: “Since all creative tools have been democratized, creative leadership is needed more than ever”
    • Max Lenderman: “creativity, therefore, needs to be malleable, ever-moving and multidisciplinary… stand for something more than just their creativity”
    • Melissa Rosenthal: “…there will be an increased emphasis on data to help drive creative decisions”
  • Reaching people:
    • Karen Zuckerman: “Video is becoming increasingly important and powerful because of the ways it can be integrated into social platforms”
    • Colin Drummond: “Almost strangely out-of-fashion resurgence of the most powerful medium we’ve had in the last 50 years: TV”

      Visual representation of creativity 
PR and advertising in a digital age

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