Right ... this is a bit of a rant. But it's been bothering me for a while ...
I've found myself (as PR's resident plannerly type it would appear) asked about my view of PR as a strategic discipline.
People keep telling me how great it is that PR is now considered a key strategic element and that - to an ever-increasing degree - it has boardroom presence. These people then go on to say that PRs should take an even more strategic approach to guarantee this position.
Now, don't get me wrong, I think that it's great that my clients have board level positions. And that they are consulted on some very important business issues. It's all good.
Now ... back to PR and an obsession with strategy ...
Of course a lot of agencies love this. We see "strategy" as high-margin stuff. Our senior consultants can charge top dollar for doing a lot of thinking. And - once again - so that I am not misunderstood, some of that thinking is really good stuff.
But this whole approach has started to piss me off. For two reasons ...
First of all, I've always thought that one of PR's real strengths over marketing disciplines is its speed. Go on, ask an ad man how long the average campaign takes from idea to execution ... months. And the same for our friends in media, in DM even in digital.
In PR, I can have an idea in the morning that is coverage across the nationals the following day. Done and dusted.
I think that is an incredibly powerful thing to our clients. We don't sell it hard enough. Really. Being fast these days is important to clients. We're fast. Why don't we get off our "slow strategy" high horses and spend some time selling what makes us different to other disciplines, rather than what we do that is the same.
Second of all, however, we've spent years jumping up and down and parading our strategic thinking. But I think that what we've lost while our focus was "over there" selling strategy was a campaign to put a better value (by which I mean a higher value, naturally) on our ideas and our creative product.
Now, it feels to me, creativity is too often considered cheap. Great ideas from PRs are considered low-cost. And those ideas are - in some cases - capable of having a profound impact on a business: bringing greater brand attention, affection, footfall, traffic ... ultimately, sales.
Reckon that you can buy a year's worth of brilliant ideas from an ad agency for £60,000? Or for £100,000? You can in PR, though. And that is not because you have to buy strategy and planning from the ad agency. That's because we sell our ideas for less money than sometimes they are worth.
So my challenge (and please bear in mind that I am to some degree at least a planner in a PR agency by trade), is for PR agencies to stop campaigning for places on boardroom tables and instead to start campaigning for better payment for the ideas that we come up with for our clients.
Understand that I am not saying that we should stop being strategic and understanding the commercial and communication requirements of our clients. Otherwise the ideas that we came up with would be pointless.
Apologies if I am asking for "cake and eat it," but what I am saying is that we need to value ideas better and start asking for clients to pay a bit more for creative excellence.
Thanks for reading this. Please let me know what you reckon.
Rant over ...