Changing channels

9 Jul

Colin Farrington, director general of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, has ruffled feathers by claiming (I paraphrase) that bloggers are lonely illiterates with no mates. Simon, David and Drew have led the charge. (I’ve been on leave, so this is by way of a catch-up.)

I detect a storm in an e-cup. I suspect that Colin (who is no PR practitioner but a manager of the institute’s people and finances) is deploying that self-deprecating humour that Agnes Poirier finds so peculiarly British.

But is blogging part of something significant? Consider this. The Economist’s survey of internet advertising identifies what’s changing with marketing spend:

…if you can track the success of advertising, especially if you can follow sales leads, then marketing ceases to be just a cost-centre, with an arbitrary budget allocated to it. Instead, advertising becomes a variable cost of production that measurably results in making more profit.

But advertisers must stop interrupting consumers. ‘On the internet, by contrast, advertisers have no choice but to “go with the user,” … and “the information coming back from the users is more important than the messages going out." This is why public relations is becoming ever more significant; even, as Al and Laura Ries have argued, first and foremost amongst marketing techniques. (I know, I know, but public relations is frequently funded from the marketing budget, and this ties in with the argument in The Economist’s survey).

Meanwhile, another PR graduate with skills, drive, experience and, yes, an impressive blog has been snapped up by Edelman’s interactive solutions team. Congratulations, Stephen. At the same time, an experienced PR consultant and, yes, blogger thinks that the future of public relations is in search (just as The Economist argues that search is the future of advertising.) Good luck, Antony.

I’ll say this, Colin. We live in interesting times.

3 Responses to “Changing channels”

  1. Antony Mayfield 09/07/2006 at 11:06 am #

    Thanks, Richard.
    I’ve just been reading the Economist article as well and thinking about the parallels with PR and the shift of media attention, influence and finances to online.

  2. Stephen Davies 10/07/2006 at 11:20 am #

    Thanks Richard.

  3. David Phillips 10/07/2006 at 5:59 pm #

    The Economist article is still in ‘painting by numbers mode’. It is written by a marketing minded person. Keep filling in the blanks and you will get a picture.
    Its not like that anymore.
    There is an interaction in ‘real life’ that says a house is a tangible asset. Of course this is a nonsense. At best it is a licence. The same goes for a factory, office or industrial lathe.
    In real life, we go with the flow. We aggregate the intangibles such that they take on the form we understand as `’tangible assets’. A brick is clay – an element – and all the rest is applied – intangible – values (which in many cases is a mashup of current and historic knowledge, contexts and emotions).
    But now there is cyberspace where the tangible can be endlessly disintermediated by both humans and by computer programmes into the granular element – values.
    They can also be aggregated because the values can be re-assembled by combinations of computer programmes and people.
    Every brand value can be teased out of the brand and can be re-constructed because of Internet Agency.
    ‘Blazing Netshine’ (I coined the word six years ago) shines on every brand and all its values including those that the organisation believes it owns and all the ones owned by consumers and other publics. As a result all values are individually available to be accumulated, discarded or reconstructed.
    An Adsense action is one of those re-assemblies but alongside one of those, there are many more that are constructed in a different form. The advertising industry, based on the Economist article, has it at a rate of 1:25 at present. They are guessing and that ratio will grow and grow.
    Under the skin in cyberspace, the URL’s and XML veins and nervous system have an endless capability to make this happen and for the nonce with humans in charge of the computers and, as long as the network has redundancy available, advertising will have to be re-invented every few years (Lord Saatchi should worry more about WiMax than Constant Partial Attention)
    The alternative is to recognise values and seek understanding of how, when they interact, they stay together, even fleetingly. Fortunately we have the Greeks to help. The study of ontology and semantics is well established and is more to do with Public Relations than scream marketing.

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