Confessions Of A PR-Man: The Future Of Advertising Is Golden

Gästinlägg av Jerry Silfwer

I’m no ad man, for sure. With a solid background in PR, I love it when people share information simply because they want to. For themselves. And not just because they are paid to.

PR is sometimes described as more powerful than advertising, but that’s a way too simplistic view. Advertising is important, too. Oftentimes even more important than PR, and vice versa. It’s the mix, really.

Parallel with the rise of social media, which is profoundly composed of two-way dialogue and relationships, traditional advertising sure took a hit. It’s not like the fifties anymore.

The days of the magic bullet theory are long gone.

So, what to do?

The ad industry took to all the talk about conversation and viral bliss. Shortly thereafter, they started to break into PR and web content creation, just to be a part of it.

In short, the ad industry took a wrong turn somewhere along the way.

The ad industry shouldn’t look to the PR or web agencies for answers. They are simply better at interactivity – or at least they should be.

And it makes no sense having planners, copywriters, and art directors working with digital PR or web site creation. You’d be better off firing them and hiring PR-people, web strategists, and programmers instead.

Instead, the ad industry should be looking at Google.

The social web isn’t all about conversation, contrary to popular belief. It’s also about reaching the right people at the right time at the right place with the right message.

The ad industry has a proud history when it comes to researching target audiences. Why not focusing on planning and on making sure the client’s message reaches not the masses, but the right potential consumers at the right moment?

What if the ad industry could be masters in reaching those who actually wants to hear what the client has to say – right then and there?

Sadly, this is where the ad industry fails today. I get bombarded with ads, but the ads don’t really care about me. I don’t even get the opportunity to choose what type of ads I would want to be exposed to.

Some argue advertising needs to become better. That’s besides the point, according to me. Ads need to hit the consumer exactly at the right time – when the consumer actually wants the information.

If the ad reaches me at the exact moment when I actually need the information, then the ad don’t even have to be particularly creative. Informative would suffice, really.

I believe in a strong future for advertising. It is only a matter of shifting focus. I just hope this message reaches you at a point in time and space when you’re actually ready for it.

Jerry Silfwer är Executive Digital Strategist på Whispr Group i Stockholm och utbildad inom PR och lingvistik. Han har grundat branschforumet PR of Sweden och är medredaktör för mediebloggen Same Same But Different. På den egna bloggen Doktor Spinn skriver han om strategisk kommunikation i det digitala medielandskapet. Jerry har en stor passion för det kommunikativa hantverket, men strävar alltid efter att utgå från företagsledningens perspektiv.

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6 thoughts on “Confessions Of A PR-Man: The Future Of Advertising Is Golden”

  1. As always, Jerry shows a great understanding of the new communication landscape. However I think he misses a point of advertising. One of the greatest powers of advertising lies in the unknown. In the creation and stimulation of unknown needs and wants. When you’re already buying product/service x, then microtargeting is extremely effective and not fully exploited by creative agencies. There is still however a huge amount of marketing needs when that is not the case. Research shows that entertainment “in itself” is an effective way of creating demand. Branded environments and experiences are also territories far from creative microtargeting.
    The ad agency is still one of the best homes of commercial creativity but we have been challenged the last years by media specialists and pr experts. This evolution is great, but I don’t think creative microtargeting should be the direction or holy grail. Rather understanding cultural trends and consumer insights and transfer those into business opportunities.

  2. I echo parts of what Elias writes, I don’t even think such a evolution towards microtargeting where the ad reaches you at the exact moment when you actually need the information is something desirable. Yes, it would be very convenient but such a world would require perfect information about the consumer at all times. Essentially a one-way message with the expectation that the service or product will be bought.

    PR on the other hand has more potential to make a relation to the customers. This kind of relation would as such be more equal than the relation the consumer has to the advertiser. That’s something to strive for in my opinion.

  3. Thanks for insightful comments @Elias Betinakis and @Jonathan Sundqvist and let me be the first to confess that advertising rather isn’t something that I should claim to fully understand the dynamics of. I even thought about tossing the text into the bin. But at the same time, I felt that it might stir up some constructive discussion about direction for the ad industry as a whole. Because what I do know is PR, and I know what it would take for an ad agency to shift from crafting creative ads to engage in relationships and dialogue with key publics. I argue that ad agencies heading for this direction would be better off hiring bonafide PR professionals than ad men and women.

    Parallell to this, I see the emergence of consumer data, moving from demographics to psychographics. To be clear, I don’t think Facebook ads, Google Adwords, and Tradedoubler-style technology is the holy grail, but I do think that you can be just as creative when it comes to how to reach the right people at the right time, as it does when it comes to finding creative ways to reach the masses.

  4. Just a point of contention. Just as perhaps PR is best left to PR professionals, surely knowing how to reach the right people at the right tome is the craft of media agencies and their communications planners? Whereas the historic true skill of advertising agencies is crafting how the intended message is best presented and dramatized in order to capture the hearts and minds of the intended audience?

    Or maybe we are moving to a situation where every agency, and their representatives, are merely experts (generalists?) in communications? And then it is for the client to determine who they think might best serve their needs?

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