At this year’s Cannes, there were more ad agencies winning awards for PR and social work than PR firms.

Is this a trend (are ad agencies taking over the world), or is it as Ad Age suggests, a phenomena driven by the “PT Barnum” nature of the ad industry and the “Cobbler’s Children” nature of the PR industry.

One is not ashamed to shout out and the other can’t find the time (or money) to promote itself.

So if you’re searching for help in social media or public relations, where do you turn?  Hire an Ad Agency or a PR firm?

I believe that it makes no difference which you turn to as both can very effectively deliver what you’re looking for.  In the end, it really boils down to the character of the firm, how well they understand your business, and how they view the activity of PR and social – are they new or old school.

If a firm is still entrenched in the traditional way of PR and shouts out all it’s great “relationships with editors” as the only real reason why a marketer should use them, it’s time to run.  If a firm (PR or ad agency) thinks social is all about setting up Facebook accounts and Twitter accounts – without thinking through a strategy on how to best integrate it into the total marketing campaign – then run.  And if the PR firm or ad agency in consideration doesn’t do much in the world of analytics, and tracking, and, and listening, and then responding to the learning from analytics, then run.

So in the end, it makes no difference who is winning what awards.  What matters is who is doing the thinking, strategizing, planning, and partnering to make both PR and social programs stronger and better integtrated parts of a brand’s efforts to build its business.