Sunday, April 20, 2014

Is PR The New Scam?

Answer: no, it's not.

Consider two new campaigns that were released last week.
On the left, a print/outdoor piece for highlighter pens(!) With apologies to those involved... this feels terribly old-fashioned to me.

But the MJ Bale work, on the right, which put a paywave chip in the arm of a suit, is a totally different beast.

Yes, it was probably agency-initiated, and the principal motivation was probably to win awards, but the crucial difference is that it will also do a great job for the client. In fact it already has - that suit got shedloads of PR coverage.

Like World's Most Powerful Arm, Mobile Medic, Fundawear, FlavorPrint, and Honey Maid, it's a perfect example of the modern, low-budget, tech-based PR piece. 

For whatever reason, the news outlets have gone crazy for tech stories - they feature a tech story every single day. Therefore, if you come up with a cool tech idea, it will be featured in the news media, reach millions of people, and get genuine results for the client... as well as winning awards.

Result - we don't need to do scam any more, people.

An interesting side-aspect of this development is it means that we're all in PR now, to some extent. I don't mind, because I think PR is very fun. And fortunately, ad agencies seem to be better at PR than the PR agencies are...

UPDATE - A couple of friends who work in PR have pointed out to me that many of the case studies I listed – including the MJ Bale campaign - were not created solely by ad agencies, but by ad agencies working in collaboration with PR agencies. Which kinda invalidates my point about ad agencies being better at PR than PR agencies. We're better together! Let's do this.


Darren said...

The problem is that so much PR is badly strategised and executed. But used in the right way, PR can amplify messaging reach, frequency and engagement beyond any paid media opportunity. Just a pity that so much good PR is tarred with the poor broad brush. Perhaps a PR campaign highlighting the effectiveness of good PR?

Anonymous said...

A really good idea often gets good PR. So Simon I believe you're right, in some ways, when stating that agencies are better at PR. If they come up with a good idea, execute it brilliantly, then the PR can take care of itself.

Sally Jones said...

IMO PR is just a medium and something neutral. PR can be scam if the source is a scammer. Being a company who delivers corporate videos, which is a PR tool. We deliver the message and the core of a company. Not necessarily to scam.

Anonymous said...

PR is just advertising minus sales.

Anonymous said...

If you want to see the next-gen Cannes scammers at work, check out the crowd-funding platforms. That's all I'm saying...

Lyndon Johnson said...

The problem is that PR is, too often, talked about only in terms of media coverage. Coverage is one channel.

Media coverage is, all too often, publicity - there is little attempt, if any, of building a relationship with a defined audience. Rather, it's a 'throw content at as many people as possible and see what gets shared' approach.

I'm not convinced that PR is a scam; miss sold, mostly. It doesn't have to be like that!

Alan Brocious said...

PR is a strange bird, when it works it really works and everyone is happy. When it fails it's about as useful as a fart in a wind sock. Then again the same thing goes for ad agencies.

As a strategy I've seen it work best when the Ad agency has a solid PR department. The campaign is normally more coordinated and focused.