No, I am not describing a recent crafting session for Michaels. Or asking the final bonus round question for our Olympic Trivia games.
I am referring to an article I read recently about an Exec who became CMO at a PR firm and left fairly quickly to get back to his roots at a well-known advertising agency he admired for years.
When asked why he did the “ad agency-to-PR-back-to-ad agency” thing he said that he missed the industry that he considered his craft and its distinct process of creation, expression, people, and way of thinking. While he met a lot of nice people at the PR firm that recruited him to re-invent it, he stated, “ We were just not similarly wired.” He went further to say, “I will look back on the venture as a bit of post grad work to expand horizons, globalization and respect for integrated communications.” Culturally it was time for him to go home.
As someone who left the advertising world to join a company steeped in PR at its roots I admit that I read this article several times. The PR agency had no comment at the time the article went to press. I really wonder what they thought of him?
Does the successful blending of advertising and PR together (so you cannot tell where one stops and the other starts) come down to wiring? Is there a red wire and yellow wire and if they are connected just so the light goes on? Or maybe an explosion goes off?
In the year and a half these two worlds collided for me I have seen the light (and some mini explosions).
Conceptually it is really a no brainer why you’d want these callings and all the related practices (social media, consumer, professional, medical education, digital, analytics and global) to converge. Strategy, creative, platform, and communication streams can effectively and seamlessly saturate their respective ecosystems. When this connectedness happens, it is game changing for the client and the agency. Every discipline becomes modernized and the kinds of products, programs and services that are invented through this mash up are masterful and meaningful.
Who wouldn’t want innovation and value?
I do think that people are wired differently based on their experience set and the demands of the professional environments they grow up in. Its like baby’s formative first years—we are all shaped by what we know and who our work parents were. I would have to say that the wiring comment is true on many levels.
PR is an intense singularly focused and highly scrappy endeavor where you are often reacting or “handling in the moment” with steadfast calmness and know how. I liken it to an emergency room where the attending doc is stitching you up and telling you a story at the same time to distract you from the pain.
Advertising/marketing is a compilation exercise of intensive, sometimes protracted and circuitous planning with extended teams and highly (sometimes well) orchestrated building, bobbing and weaving. Eventually you get this patchwork of programs and strategies and services that are stapled or duct taped together to have a semi-enduring quality about them but can be undone if necessary and reshaped using some other glue to get to goal should market dynamics dictate.
While I am sometimes frustrated by the differences between PR and MKTG/ADVTG, more often than not I am smitten with the resourcefulness, richness of ideas and calm problem solving approach. I hope that my PR colleagues are equally smitten with the ability to cobble together the big picture story or create dimension and depth by bringing teams of people together who might not have found each other in another life. I see it that we all live in a world that could be called RP:
- Real Problem solving and Reaching People.
We collectively achieve RP in a place we cohabitate and call home by whatever means it takes— hard-wiring, stapling, stitching or taping. It’s an evolving art; and a brave new world. To live and flourish in it you have to roll up your sleeves and craft well with others…
Marketing Girl in a PR World is part of a weekly series written by Laura Fusco, leader of our W2O Group’s Health 360 practice.