Monday, September 20, 2010

PR firm or advertising agency?

History books will tell you that the modern public relations agency was born within advertising agencies.

So, what happens when an advertising agency tries to offer public relations? Or, vice versa.

Will the agency lose its advertising brand when trying to call itself a public relations agency? Will a public relations agency lose any appearance of its primary focus by also offering advertising services?

Many advertising and PR agencies have figured the best course of action is to create a separate company within a company - to ensure distinctive brands. My old firm - Stoorza - did this when they acquired an advertising agency.

Without the "separation" clearly defined, existing and potential clients can be confused. Worse, an agency risks diluting its strengths and brand image.

Case in point this week: A Southern California boutique advertising firm is called a "PR Agency" in a story. Adding insult - the reporter accepted on faith statements that this firm was one of the "best known PR firms" in the region and didn't bother to check there were at least three other true PR agencies in that region with higher billings, a longer client roster and higher name recognition. (Disclosure: Stoorza's office in this region evolved into one of those agencies. And, I provide consulting services to another one of those firms.).

I'm sure this advertising agency does great work. The diligence required for anyone seeking PR services is to, well, look first for a PR firm whose core strengths are PR.

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