I was talking to a good friend and former colleague recently about setting up on my own and she urged me to ensure I offered as wide a range of communications services as possible. As a marketing manager, she’s regularly appointing external suppliers and always looking for added value to maximise her budget. Whilst this recommendation was probably stating the obvious, it did make me think about what’s expected of a specialist PR provider and how my skill set, actually in practice, spills over into other marketing disciplines.
I consider myself to have been ‘brought up properly’ in the PR industry. I’ve been lucky-enough to have learned my trade from some incredibly talented individuals and worked for some of the country’s leading agencies. Going back to the start of my career in the late 1990s, I seem to remember the divisions between different marketing disciplines were far more defined than they are today – and so the campaigns I was working on were PR through and through: Media relations, editorial, photography, press office, etc. In more recent roles however, I’ve found myself delivering briefs for placing advertising, developing new websites, producing exhibition stands and managing email marketing campaigns, all as additions to a more traditional PR brief. And, depending on the nature of the activity, I would either deliver the work myself or call on my own bank of trusted suppliers to contribute their expertise. The benefit of this of course is that I gained a great many more skills.
If a number of different suppliers are involved in a campaign, each will have been appointed as experts in their field. Often it’s completely appropriate to take this route, but then there’s the inevitable headache of having to manage not only them, but to ensure they are all communicating the same message to the target customer.
I suppose really it comes down to relationships what PR does at the end of the day. I am first and foremost a PR consultant, but as clients have built their trust in me and know I can save them the hassle of finding other specialist suppliers, I have found myself delivering more and more briefs which spill over into other marketing disciplines. And, I’m happy to help.