The quarterly Pearlfinders Index, published by Pearlfinders Marketing is always an interesting read, and the Q2 2011 edition is no exception. It’s packed full of interesting stats based on their conversations with over 5,000 marketing decision-makers.
What caught my eye this time around was their assumption that “if content is the currency, ad agencies are surely best placed to generate it”. Their view is based on their finding that that “in Q2 2011, 7% of marketers spoke about the value of good content, compared with just 4.6% in the same period in 2010” and therefore, “all of this presents an opportunity for ad agencies to revive the traditional view of a lead creative and to reclaim digital from a new standpoint”.
Well I’m sorry to disappoint you Messrs Saatchi, but I don’t believe that ad agencies will reclaim the lead when it comes to content and that, with luck, PR agencies will.
Why the optimism? Because (and shhh, don’t tell anyone) we’ve been supplying content to traditional media for ages and now we’re doing the same for social media. We’ve kept numerous print titles afloat with a stream of contributed articles. We’ve organised (and then tipped off the tabloids and the celebrity press) about stunts. We’ve ‘leaked’ stories and given off the record briefings. In short, we’ve fed traditional media a rich diet for so long that it would not be able to function without us.
And now we’re taking the lead in social media too. We’re tweeting on behalf of our clients. We’re ghost writing their personal blogs. We’re contributing to online forums and debates. Put simply, we’re delivering the content that feeds this media too.
Is content supplied from a PR consultancy ‘better’ than that supplied from an ad agency? Yes and no. There’s no question that ad agencies are highly creative and their campaigns both memorable and effective. They should be given that they employ highly paid copywriters who can write like a dream. But ad copy has always been monologic (i.e., its one-way only). You can’t communicate with a poster ad, or respond to a TV commercial.
So the ad man’s mindset is set to ‘transmit only’. PR, on the other hand, has been permanently set to ‘send and receive’. We’ve always practiced two-way communications (how else could we ensure that the story ideas we supply to the media are newsworthy and of interest to their readers/viewers/listeners?).
So we really are ideally placed to help those budget holders who, according to Pearlfinders, “are under increasing pressure to maximise returns from creative content produced by agencies”.
Like Audrey from the Little Shop of Horrors, we’ve got used to feeding so we’ll have no trouble responding to these budget holders who have “…a growing appetite for high-quality content, adapted across all channels and tailored to different audiences”.