PR should take a leaf out of the advertising book

I read an interesting article this morning on how advertising is using technology. The piece focused on how billboards are getting smarter and gave examples such as how in the future they be able to beam coupons to your car as you drive along for stores close by. What struck me after reading the piece was that I don’t hear much about how people are embracing technology to the same degree in the PR world. Of course technologies such as Vocus and Biz360 are gradually becoming more common but forgive me for saying that these are really just tools to automate existing ways of doing things. They don’t enable you to do something you couldn’t have done before. This in turn made me question how technology could disrupt the PR world. My first thought was to look at the sales process customers follow. Right now traditional PR influences certain parts of the sales cycle through news, product reviews, case studies etc. Through Blogs PR has picked up the opportunity to talk more directly to customers if it so wishes. But what if we took a leaf out of the advertising world’s book and used the very same technology they are thinking about to get PR generated content into the hands of customers instead of advertisers? So instead of a billboard sending a car a coupon, how about as you arrive at Best Buy you get sent (to either your phone or blackberry) an abstract or a podcast of a product review comparing your client’s products with that of its competitors? How about when you register your new product instead of receiving annoying offers online, you get news or feature articles relating to the product you bought? Put another way I think there’s a real opportunity for the PR world to engage in a dialog with the advertising industry to embrace the great thinking that’s taking place on the use of technology and broaden its use to encompass PR. In fact the only problem I can see with this is that the ad industry may not want to talk for fear they will loose out on valuable marketing dollars in the future.

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15 Comments on “PR should take a leaf out of the advertising book”

  1. Antony Mayfield says:

    Yep. PR firms need to invest in tech R&D and sell new technology based services to their clients – or someone else will do it for them.

    I referenced this post at: http://open.typepad.com/open/2006/04/blog_measuremen.html

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  3. Usher Lieberman says:

    I like the idea of register your product and get directed maybe to blogs about how power users have “hacked” their products, i.e. used it in ways not necessarily intended (but still legal and acceptable) by the manufacturer. Roomba does encourage hacks for instance.

    Basically the point is to leverage PR better. Really its a matter of better partnership with our counterparts in advertising, getting them to use the content PR generates more than the content they generate. The rationale is simple, our content references 3rd party endorsements, and theirs doesn’t. It takes a bite out of their creative, but could be a boon to their interactive folks. Or maybe we just hire a bunch of their interactive guys away and start the development on our own.

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