Tuesday, June 14, 2005

PR Vs. Advertising: This Time, It's Personal

PR Vs. Advertising: This Time, It's Personal
by Joe Mandese, Tuesday, Jun 14, 2005 7:30 AM EST
THE PUBLIC RELATIONS INDUSTRY, NOT advertising agencies, appears to be taking the lead on the burgeoning marketplace of so-called "personalized media." Ketchum, the giant public relations division of Omnicom, late Monday unveiled Ketchum Personalized Media, a new unit focused on "how, why and when" to integrate personalized media strategies into marketing communications plans. Ketchum is not the first PR firm to do so - Cooper Katz recently launched what it's calling a "Micro Persuasion" practice - but it is by far the largest so far.
Unlike traditional mass media communications, the micro media marketplace focuses on new forms of personalized, or consumer generated media such as blogs (Web logs), podcasts, RSS (really simple syndication) and new mobile marketing applications in which individuals transmit media content directly to a few or many end-users.

While most major ad agencies have begun tracking the rapidly growing field, none of yet formed a dedicated practice devoted to developing and exploiting what many believe could be the future of marketing communications.

"A lot of conflicting information and anxiety exist about how to incorporate these new online technologies into 'traditional' communications programs," said Paul Rand, a Ketchum Partner, Chicago Managing Director, and co-leader of the development team that oversees the new unit, which will draw on the firm's eKetchum Digital Media Group, as well as PR and technology offices worldwide. Ketchum executives said a global perspective is essential for understanding the personalized media marketplace, because technologies evolve differently in different markets. For example, the firm said the U.S. is "six to 18-months behind" Europe and Asia in terms of new mobile marketing techniques such as Short Message Service (SMS), text-based messaging that has proven to be an especially viral way of spreading word-of-mouth in overseas markets. Perhaps the best example of SMS used on a wide scale in the U.S. was the high-profile phone-in-vote campaigns utilized by Fox's "American Idol" series.

A number of top media agencies have begun tracking and analyzing the personalized media marketplace, and are initiating programs to capitalize on it, but the PR industry appears to be developing it as a dedicated marketing services practice.

Editor, MediaPost