Working in Silicon Valley for decades has given us a clear vantage point on the ongoing world of mergers and acquisitions which fuel constant innovation in the technology marketplace. It is a drumbeat that never ends and one that ensures nothing remains stagnant.
Our 32-year history has also given us a bird’s eye view of the same evolutionary changes in our own profession. The communications landscape has also significantly evolved over the past few years, a seismic shift that began with the advent of social media and the corresponding erosion of traditional media. This year, a new “merger” (maybe more of a mashup) took place in earnest. Here in the capital of M&A, we have seen multiple communications disciplines join together in an integrated fashion and create a new wave of agencies to holistically service client needs.
Suddenly, “public relations agencies” are dropping PR from their names. Some are even shedding the “communications” moniker. Branding aside, all of these agencies including McGrath/Power are focusing on a new generation of client service in which broader services beyond the core expertise of “public relations” knit together within client programs. Done properly, the end result provides an end-to-end customer journey through the combined worlds of branding, marketing, influencer relations, digital communications, advertising and sales disciplines.
In many ways, this is Darwinian occurrence much like the Silicon Valley M&A cadence. In technology, an overheated market populated by numerous companies offering similar products that really should be features of a larger unified single solution consumes its young to create a stronger, more streamlined category. That same evolution has created the Integrated Age in communications. The multitude of new communications vehicles, including advertising, and organic and paid social media, are being consolidated within single agencies thus breaking down walls between specialties services, firms and internal departments at corporations.
Does this kill PR as we know it? We say no. In fact, we believe integrated campaigns enhance a brand’s relationship with the public. We now live in a highly personalized world where content has to be customized with the right context. Fewer and fewer people are relying on traditional media as a primary news source, social media platforms have become launching pads for company communications, and brands need a unified hub to coordinate the new communications channel lineup.
PR may not be dead but it sure isn’t the same discipline it was 10 years ago. That is a good thing. Good agencies will get better. Client needs will be served more seamlessly and creatively. And the drumbeat of professional evolution will provide the cadence for ongoing positive results.