|Social Media Science
||[Aug. 28th, 2009|05:12 pm]
If there's one article that advertising and PR practitioners should read it's one that appeared in the FT (of all places) today.
It reinforces a lot of my own thinking in that the turf war currently going between the ad agency, the PR agency, the media buyer, the digital agency for who grabs the burgeoning web spend is becoming meaningless from the client's perspectives. They are buying outcomes. Outcomes that need to embrace a selection of skills but agencies are still trying to grab budget within the confines of their existing structures.
There may be a couple of senior people who 'get' the web and they may have a 'digital team' but ultimately the rank-and-file is still geared up for a commodotised version of the old world. My business is PR and I feel we make a convincing case for being the discipline that understands audience behavior and knows how to build relationships and score on 'earned attention'. But really, as with all agency models, most of the staff have grown up with a commodotisation of part of the discipline. In PR's case its writing press releases and contacting journalists on a press list. That's average media relations, not good public relations.
A client's communications outcomes are being redefined and agencies that genuinely understand their craft can adapt. Agencies that largely have just commodotised a bit of their craft and call that understanding their craft will just keep stretching and stretching until they break.
From my point of view a lot of my new business is coming in in partnership with my close friend who is a web developer. Clients are not paying for 'a website' in the new world either. Between us though we can produce online collateral that people want to use and that makes the client useful amongst the online networks it's interested in i.e. identifying and understanding audiences, building relationships and gaining a proper communications outcome.
It was interesting to see recently that many Madison Avenue ad firms are investing in number crunchers to sit alongside (or even above) the creatives and the FT piece says “Software engineers are the new rock stars of marketing”. I agree with all that. PR and advertising has to get more scientific and more analytical.
Increasingly the core skills will be language, understanding what turns a customer on/off, how to be social on the web, understanding networks of influence, where your client fits into them, your client's sector/industry issues and understanding emotion as well as the mainstream media, journalist likes/dislikes.
But there's still plenty we can learn from the best of Madison Avenue and the Dream Factory. It will still be about telling stories and selling dreams as we're still aiming at human beings, whether they're clients or consumers, and its emotion that turns them on.
Look at this for a lesson from The Master in turning something functional into something emotional.