Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A CMO on PR vs. Advertising

In a recent editorial in CMO Magazine, an anonymous CMO wrote about "Why advertising and PR can't - and shouldn't - get along." The author suggested that PR and Advertising mavens ought to get along, since their goals are similar, but that they can't seem to...and that this fragmentation may get worse.

But the writer didn't talk about WHY the disciplines don't get along. And when the CMO went on to advocate for a split between Corporate PR specialists and Product PR, again, there was no reason as to WHY this made sense, nor how it would impact the PR/Advertising relationship.

Ultimately it was a very well-written but unsatisfying, confusing and incomplete article. In other words - too friggin' clever for its own good. The article tried to be controversial, but never explained the root of the controversy.

It's a missed opportunity in that regard, but maybe its well-written inarticulateness helps explain the so-called turf war between the PR and Advertising worlds.

The ad guys try to boil down messages to their essence; some of the best ads can tell the brand story without a single word. The advertising guru is empowered to tell the story they want, wherever they want (with client permission). Advertisements do not influence: they emote. Strike the right chord, and you can change or motivate consumer behavior.

Meanwhile, PR guys depend on sophistry; words (and lots of them) are their art. PR relies on an ability to influence; but we are not trying to change or influence consumer behavior - we are trying to get the media to do the job for us.

Advertising IS the brand; PR is the whisper about the brand. Advertising is the grand gesture - the conclusion of the story; PR is the plotline.

That still doesn't explain why the two disciplines can't seem to get along. When faced with such an ageless question, I try to boil things down to basic human wiring: in this case I'll place my money on the Jealousy card.

PR people are jealous of Ad pros cuz the the Adfolk get to hang out with hot models and produce pretty pictures and go to MTV parties, etc. Advertising professionals are the creative jocks. Meanwhile, the Ad guys must grudgingly accept the fact that advertisements alone are not enough to move the needle; they need the PR machine to influence the influencers...

And so it goes. It ain't rocket science. Advertising and PR are the Chang and Eng of Marketing, and I am sure there were plenty of days in which P.T. Barnum's famous Siamese twins wished they could go it alone.

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