Snippet - Micro Persuasion isn't just a blog anymore

Congratulations to Steve Rubel with his launch of the Micro Persuasion service at CooperKatz.

But, whenever agencies launch specialized practices - beyond the natural ones, like healthcare - it makes me wonder "shouldn't these practices be part of the overall public relations campaign to begin with?"

Why do firms feel the need to marginalize different services - like MWW's blogging service, FH Out Front for the homosexual community or Ketchum's Women 25to34? It's like most of these efforts/offerings are designed as marketing tactics. The firms don't know how to promote a new service as much as they feel capable of promoting a whole new 'mini firm'

While Steve has done a great job branding himself, - I did ask him if MP was going to become a division of CooperKatz a couple month's ago - does PR need to divide and marginalize every practice and group?

In PR Week's Julia Hood's New Year editorial, she noted that "We will hold agencies more accountable for proving the benefits of their new practice areas and offerings, and challenge more aggressively blanket productization of PR programs."

What do I take this to mean? PRW will look to write about "real" new practices at PR firms, not the micro-practices that come and go with trends.

It's my view that we should be able to reach out to any group for a client, and have certain practices within the campaign. Granted, as PR people we need to pay attention to budgets, billability and time, and can't feasibly provide everything in one campaign, but shouldn't this just be one part of a campaign, the blogosphere? It's the same thing for me when agencies split up online and print campaigns - don't they overlap to begin with? It should be one campaign, and often times its not.

Everyone in the PR Weblog community seems to have been writing that blogs/online should at least be explored as a possible tactic to add to the mix for any campaign. If it suits the campaign, use it - offer it. But, do we need to have a separate division?

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3 comments

  1. Anonymous1:29 AM

    Jeremy,

    I agree with the sentiment, but in practice it is quite different. As I mentioned (http://weblogs.netcoms.com/niallcook/archive/2005/01/06/184.aspx) following the MWW announcement, in many large companies (including agencies) innovation can only happen when a smaller group are given the freedom to explore it independently and away from the core business.

    What actually matters is whether CooperKatz has built a clearly defined re-entry strategy into the Micro Persuasion business plan, and is going to give Steve the support (and slack) he needs to educate his own colleagues along the way.

    Niall

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  2. A few reasons why this may be the right way to go...

    First, you have Clayton M. Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma, where disruptive innovations are ruled out by legacy best practices. By dropping this new thing into its own business unit, preferably with its own P&L, it won't be stifled. It will be able to pursue its own customers, build its own methods, and do things badly in its early stages. Blogging as PR is a babe next to print and other media, even next to banner advertising. So you need a safe space to experiment and take risks, and customers who are willing to take them with you. For something strange and new, this may be the best way to build confidence within the PR firm and with its clients.

    Second, campaign integration has long been a problem. Earlier this week I read of how the Kerry media online campaign was isolated from the broadcast and direct mail campaigns; out of sync and off message. (See the Personal Democracy Forum for more on this example.) Blogging is a strange duck from the point of view of integration. It's part editorial PR, where you seed stories and keep memes spreading. And it's also a marketplace, where the bloggers themselves are markets. Blogical tempo, tactics and constraints are unique, so integration with the rest of a campaign is still being invented.

    Last, you're right. Blogging will become routine, a choice like daytime radio or direct mail. It will be absorbed. But some folks will be world class experts and build specialty boutiques. Will yours be one of them?

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  3. Thanks for the comment Phil.

    As for POP! Public Relations being a blogging boutique? Not exclusively, but an agency that understands the value – and pitfalls – of the blogosphere and incorporates such outreach in the appropriate campaigns.

    I agree that since it’s so new, a lot of agencies are going to be careful about the blogosphere, particularly because it is not as easy to point to a ROI for pitching bloggers (although tools such as Cymfony and PR Trak are making it easier). But does this mean it does not or should not belong to the overall campaign? Or should blogs be consigned to a separate division? I don't understand PR firms that have separate online and print divisions within the company - who end up competing with each other - and I see the same thing happening with blogs.

    I did speak with Steve this morning, and got a little clarification from him. MP is going to be a value-add for existing clients, as well as a new business offering.

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