A half a dozen years ago, the challenge for PR firms was: who owned social media?
The traditional agency, the new up and coming social media firms, or PR agencies?
PR firms, historically the kings and queens of content, were suddenly thrown into a position where they didn’t know what to do…do they jump into the digital space and walk away from their historical way of managing corporate and consumer communication – or do they jump on board?
Today, PR firms are faced with another challenge: do they maintain their identity as a PR firm, or do they evolve into something that looks more like a full service agency?
Most, if not all, of the PR firms we represent on the agency new business side of our business, have PR as part of their talent set. The opposite isn’t necessarily true of PR firms. Most are now in the business of social media, but fewer are fully integrated, playing like their full service agency counterparts.
Question is, will this last?
It’s not unlike digital firms and the conundrum they faced 5-6 years ago. When they first entered the market it was a-ok to just be a highly creative digital firm. Eventually many had to recognize that digital was just one part of a bigger marketing program – and many started competing against their full service competitors.
My guess is, it won’t. There will be the random PR firm that will find it’s niche and stay true to the PR space…but many will have to diversify and offer other services in order to survive.
Second question is, how will PR firms differentiate themselves from their full service brethren?
While it makes it more difficult, I believe that the essence of who they are/where they came from is what gives them an advantage over full service firms. Content is king today – and PR firms more so than any other type of agency, understands how to develop convincing, compelling, and motivating communication.
It will be tough, but the opportunity is there.