Opinion: There’s room for everyone in the digital landscape

PR agencies that  tell their clients not to advertise in a certain publication because they will get them ‘free’ coverage have had their day unless they evolve. The boundaries between PR and advertising are blurring more than ever before in the print media.

The digital landscape means communication today is much more lateral and every aspect of the marketing mix is having to adapt at a pace and rate I have never experienced in the 20 or so years I have been in PR.

Because of the rise and rise of digital, the press is having to become more creative to gain a foothold with advertisers. I believe, we’re now seeing a shift towards sponsorship rather than a traditional half page in the press; think awards, opinion columns, etc.

Digital advertising is facing its own challenges however.  At the recent Web Summit I attended in Lisbon, Portugal, along with 55,000 other ‘techies’, I listened to an interview – State of the Advertising Nation, with Maurice Levy, CEO if Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s first communication and advertising agencies.

Levy was enlightening. While PR has had to adapt to digital and online comms in recent years, ad agencies are facing their own challenges in the digital revolution. Phrases such as ad-blocking, media splintering were uttered with French disdain by Maurice.

He said: “Ad blocking was a wake-up call for the ad industry. We have to be more creative in the way we are addressing consumers. This time last year ad blocking was a big threat to publishers. Now bigger sites have anti ad blocks now on.”

Levy went on: “We advise clients not to buy them as it annoys the consumer. It is our responsibility to create ads that people want to see. We have to be more creative.”

I agree. However, this is not just an issue for the advertising industry but also for PR. We are having to be more creative to gain editorial coverage and increase brand engagement for our clients. A standard press release and photo no longer cuts it and represents only a small part of what In the Works PR and eBusiness Works now does.

This digital disruption is affecting everything; even touching the Catholic church which is being forced to adapt in order to convey its message in a world where is no longer vertical.

It is now more important than ever to have a full range of communication where everything is put together – press releases, design, advertising, digital, websites, SEO, etc.

In the digital landscape marketing disciplines can no longer operate in isolation of each other. Collaboration is key. It’s time for marketers, journalists and techies to put their suspicions and differences aside, come together and work together. There is space, a need and a role for everyone in the digital landscape.

Anna Melton, Director of In the Works PR