A New York Times article last week examined the ongoing transformation of FleishmanHillard, a premier PR agency, into a fully-integrated marketing communications service.
Richard Edelman published a rebuttal in The New Look of Public Relations — A Dissenting View. He rejected the notion that PR companies should strive to evolve into “a one-stop shop that is as much an ad agency as PR firm.” Edelman acknowledges the convergence of media and the need for strategists outside the confines of traditional PR, but disagrees that all corporate communications should emanate from an advertising and marketing mindset. Edelman emphasizes the “inherent advantages of PR, which are credibility, speed, two-way interaction and continuous story creation.” Clients, he continues, expect specialist expertise from their PR firms. While FleishmanHillard is busy becoming a full-service provider, Edelman PR intends to focus on expanding its PR prowess.
Some PR pros insist FleishmanHillard’s strategy is nothing new. In Hey New York Times, It’s the Not-So-New Look of PR, Shawn Paul Wood calls the Times reporter out by reporting that many firms have already developed the “one-stop shop” strategy that combines PR and marketing communications. Indeed, public relations has always been based on managing discussion and creating conversations, Ronn Torossian affirms in The New (Old) Look of Public Relations.
The juxtaposition of competing visions for PR from two agency heavyweights challenges all PR agencies to consider their own positioning for the future. What do you think? Should PR firms continue to embrace the “one-stop shop” by integrating with marketing and advertising strategies? Or should they focus on providing a public relations expertise? Tell us what you think in the comment section below.