I still remember in the early noughties, there were a lot of generalist marketing agencies around that basically delivered the whole range of communication services: Customer communications, public relations, advertising, custom publishing, you name it. Then a decade of specialisation followed, as companies rebranded under the umbrella they felt was the most lucrative and prestigious. Many were reborn as PR agencies. PR was cool, for a while.
Of course, the maturity of online and social media has changed since everything, for everyone. So it’s unsurprising that agencies trying to reposition themselves favourably once again. The biggest seller at the moment is content marketing and creation. Just this month, Pitch PR relaunched as Pitch Marketing Group and Zing PR introduced a new division focusing on VR and AR content. The bigger fish in the pond have long added new content divisions through new hires and sometimes acquisitions.
It’s a positive to see how the marketing discipline has as a whole embraced a more holistic, integrated approach. But I also feel that there’s often still a chasm between the promise of content marketing as a one-size fits all solution and the reality of highly specialized disciplines with its own processes and methodologies. PR has certainly benefitted from the content marketing trend, as an industry as well as on the execution side. However for me, it goes beyond the almost mechanical placement of content. It’s about relationships with human beings, an exchange of ideas, having to answer difficult questions. Public relations has not gone out of fashion, on the contrary. Practioners have a skill set that’s more sought after than ever as brands seeking to differentiate themselves in the ocean of content publishers. Would you agree?