PR on a roll

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These are sweet times for public relations professionals, judging by the verbal victory dances some top PR managers allowed themselves in Ad Age's look at "PR's new status" last week. As PR agency CEO Don Middleburg put it, "Hallelujah, our time has come."

What he and other PR executives are celebrating is a sense of liberation from the past, when they battled a stubborn marketer world view that held PR to be a less important (and less glamorous) cousin of big bucks brand advertising. "We're not second sister anymore," declared Larry Weber, chairman-CEO of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Allied Communications Group. Amen.

If PR professionals have exorcised any lingering inferiority complex they feel about their craft, that's a healthy development for all concerned. In this era of "integrated" marketing, and sky-high media costs, the smart marketer no longer automatically turns to his advertising agency alone. The marketer's council of advisers on how to build brands, shape images and generate sales should be a large one today, and PR executives rightly belong there at the earliest planning stages.

This need not diminish the outlook for advertising and its specialists, though Interpublic's Mr. Weber boldly predicts "the demise of advertising" is on its way. Media advertising is evolving, pushed this way and that by economics and lifestyle/technology changes. But it will be here for years to come -- sharing the marketing stage with others.

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