PRs, who once had to go through the prism of journalism to convey their messages to a mass audience, are increasingly confident in circumventing traditional media altogether. In generating their own video and text-based digital content on behalf of clients, they are not only taking the bread from the table of a weakened advertising sector but encroaching onto the old territory of television and press companies.
The Independent’s Ian Burrell looks specifically at Edelman, the PR firm which has recently hired former BBC man Richard Sambrook and the Financial Times’ Stefan Stern, and suggests that the American-owned PR firm has a different strategy from other public relations agencies: it wants to take its clients’ messages directly to the consumer.
“The mantra is that every company has to be a media company in their own right, telling their own stories not just through websites but through branded entertainment, video, iPad and mobile applications,” says Sambrook in the Independent article. “Big companies are going directly to the consumer to engage them now, rather than through display or spot ads and the traditional means of trying to reach consumers. You can’t just be out there shouting at people about your brand, you’ve got to engage with them quite carefully, and the editorial skills that I can bring can help with that.”
Social media has given PR agencies an advantage over ad agencies in reaching the consumer, says the piece, but will PR fill the news void as traditional media continues to fragment? Or will audiences still need a third-party filter or endorsement?