Gini Dietrich

PR Earned its Place Long Before 2016

By: Gini Dietrich | January 27, 2016 | 

PR Earned its Place Long Before 2016By Gini Dietrich

It must be the week to pick on AdAge…or at least on their contributors.

(I’ll have to find something I don’t agree with in there to write about tomorrow!)

A couple of weeks ago, Bob Reed posted How Public Relations is Earning its Place in 2016 in the Counselors Academy Facebook group…and I went on a rant.

Not because AdAge finally recognizes that we have earned a spot at the strategic table, but because the reason they say we finally have has been around since, oh, at least 2008.

I do love this sentence, though…I may pin it to my wall so I can see it every day:

The emergence of skippable, blockable, opt-out-able advertising, not to mention ever-more integrated campaigns, means PR can suddenly demand more than a supporting role—and maybe even take center stage.

Yes, let’s take center stage, but let’s make sure it’s for the right reasons.

PR Includes Digital Media and Strategic Partnerships? Oh My!

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas the first week of January (I’ll never understand why they have such a huge show the week after the holidays, which requires some to travel during their holiday break), Coldwell Banker used its PR team (both internal and external) to talk about “how smart home tech will affect the selling and buying of residential real estate.”

To do that?

They moved beyond traditional PR to include digital media and strategic partnerships.

For real. In 2016. How was this not part of their plans in 2008? Or, I’ll even give them 2010. But 2016? Come on! The fact that PR is just now leading this and that it’s news is a real problem.

I’ll give them 2010 and the fact that it’s hard for large companies to change. It’s easy for me to sit here and say this when my Chicago PR agency doesn’t have thousands of employees and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. It’s easy for us to change.

I can also sit here and say that every client gets it and hires a PR firm to take center stage and to work with their other agencies cohesively…but that’s just not true.

There still is a huge turf war between agencies.

A client wonders if PR should own digital or if they should hire a digital marketing agency or if advertising owns digital? And, if we want PR to be at the center of it, how do they work with our digital marketing and ad agencies?

It’s not easy to manage all of that.

PR Earned its Place Long Before Now

But, this is 2016, people. PR has not been an “add-on” for years now. If we’ve not been at center stage for the past six or seven years, we certainly have been a star performer.

When we use the PESO model to integrate our communications efforts, we build authority, thought leadership, Google rankings, awareness…and, most importantly, sales that we can track directly back to our efforts.

Let’s say that owned media, or content, is at the center of our strategic plan. We create visual-, audio-, and text-based content that sits on our website or blog.

We use shared media to promote it and to bring fans and followers back to our website or blog.

We use earned media to work with journalists and bloggers to produce content for them…that links back to our owned media.

And we use paid media to amplify our efforts through sponsored content, social media advertising, and even retargeting.

At the center of all of that is where PR leads…and has always led. It’s in building trust, in building relationships, and in building authenticity. Those three things are why people buy.

People buy from people (unless you’re a commodity and we buy while standing in line at the grocery store because the packaging caught our eye) and the only way to do that is to build trust.

The only way to build trust is through PR.

So goodie for some of the large companies for transforming from traditional PR to include digital media and strategic partnerships. Goodie for them for recognizing that PR should be part of the strategic decisions. Goodie for them for putting PR at center stage.

But we’ve always been there; we’re just now getting better at proving it.

image credit: shutterstock

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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36 Comments on "PR Earned its Place Long Before 2016"


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Sherrilynne Starkie
5 months 27 days ago

You are preaching to the choir here Gini. I’ve thinking a lot about this recently and am working on something big. Watch this space.

5 months 27 days ago

*Applause”* Yes! Well said, Gini! (and forcefully, too.)

Hanna Knowles
Hanna Knowles
5 months 27 days ago

Love this! Even though I just entered the PR world two years ago, I am happy to be here and help shape relationships built upon sound reasoning. One of my first PR professors talked about the importance of making sure you have a place at the decision making table. I think this goes right along with what you are saying. If we don’t have a place at the table, we won’t be seen as a critical piece of the puzzle or be able to prevent less than desirable business decisions.

Anneliz Hannan
Anneliz Hannan
5 months 27 days ago

I’m not going to bring out my high horse and ride my feminist saddle today as her bones are too chilled with such statements but it does make me wonder if I was just a pretty face at the table for two decades! Coffee anyone?;)

5 months 27 days ago

Amen Gini!

Bill Smith

Kevin Nolan
5 months 27 days ago

Well said, Gini! PR has long had a seat at the proverbial table. PESOs for all!


5 months 27 days ago

I kind of hate these discussions because they are kind of silly like ‘What does the agency of the future look like’. Or the lifetime value of a facebook fan.

There used to be silos. Direct Sales. Advertising. PR. Marketing.

Now in my view it has become Direct Sales and Marketing with Advertising, PR, and Marketing under one bucket. The reason is because PR used to be corp comm. Press conferences and releases. Media pitch campaigns. Crisis comm.

Then PR started wanting to play in the other sandboxes…..

5 months 27 days ago

Chaaaaaarge! You go get ’em!

So, is this something you really only see with larger corporations? Strikes me as one of those “it’s really hard to turn a cruise ship on a dime” situations. Well, that and the “claiming” of territory between departments has to be, uh, “fun” within a large company. Heck, it’s interesting even in small companies…

Also, CES is the first week of January, I know you’re excited for Birthday Month, but don’t get too far ahead of yourself.

5 months 27 days ago
Can I get an amen? “At the center of all of that is where PR leads…and has always led. It’s in building trust, in building relationships, and in building authenticity. Those three things are why people buy.” Awareness -> Interest -> Evaluation -> Trial -> Adoption. The linking arrow in that process is the trust factor. Which won’t be present without a stable relationship built on real humans, feelings and thoughts. And if there isn’t trust, there’s no linking arrow – and then you have a broken string of words that don’t mean anything to anyone. I’m convinced getting over… Read more »
Travis Peterson
Travis Peterson
5 months 27 days ago

I’m pinning up the entire last section of this post to MY wall. Recipe for PR greatness.

Davina Brewer
5 months 27 days ago
Read that piece, thought much the same – it’s not PR it’s the org that always needed PR at the table, finally realizes it. For those of us doing integrated PR beyond publicity and sales, public relations has always been about relationships, about developing culture and reputation that strategically position an organization in ways that drive business goals. As to the ‘why people buy’ I think it’s a bit more simple, and complicated. What separates money from my wallet is 2 things: needs and wants. We need shelter, clothes, food. Simple. We want what we consider nicer, prettier, tastier, healthier,… Read more »
Roger Friedensen
5 months 27 days ago

Yes, yes, yes.

That is all.


Brendon Shank
5 months 25 days ago

YUP. Agree with all of this.

Though let’s applaud the latecomers, too. The fact of the matter is that there are plenty of organizations, agencies and companies that have yet to get as far as Coldwell Banker just did. We just don’t notice them anymore because they’re getting relegated to the long, sad tail of easily ignored (and low ROI) tactics.

It’s up to us to frame PR in a way that embraces the PESO model and demonstrates results. If not us, someone else will frame it for us. And we won’t like it.