Merging; a result of public relations adapting to the digital media landscape

There’s an undeniable increasing crossover between advertising and public relations agencies. Philipe Michel states “the job of advertising is not to sell, but to create a cultural link between the desires of the entrepreneur and those of the public.” In order to do that, you need practitioners who understand the importance of these relationships and cultural links, not just creative ways in which we can target a chosen demographic with ambient or interruptive advertising. The merging together of several professions will be beneficial as those working in these fields will become multi-skilled just so long as they’re capable and willing to adapt to this exciting hybrid prospect.

Before social media, the impact the consumer had on any given company was relatively insignificant. The reputation of the company was dependent upon their practices and relationships. Now, with social media, the consumer is the critic. Alongside this rise of consumer voice, communications teams must work together in order to ensure the consumers involvement in the company is a positive and unified experience so that interest is maintained. Due to this, practitioners have to become all-rounders which I think is an exciting possibility that should be embraced rather than feared. By learning and developing new skills we can better our profession for our clients and ourselves.

From this inevitable merge with communications sectors, we can all work together towards the same goals. Audiences will become the primary priority as we realise that not only can our messages not be controlled anymore, but that the audience themselves actually control the message as a result of technological advancements providing them with the power to become leaders involved with organisation reputation thanks to the Internet. Consequently, markets become powerful conversations where word of mouth is arguably sometimes more powerful than advertising.

Traditionally, creative teams have been associated with using the right side of their brains whilst the more analytical roles have been typically known to use the left. As suggested by Stella Bayles’ ‘Public Relations’ Digital Resolution’ “PR future is equal measure of use between right and left… We have to merge strategy and creativity together.” PR practitioners of the future need both logical and creative interests. After taking the Sommer & Sommer brain test recommended by Stella, I’m happy (and relieved) to see that according to the test, I use both sides equally.

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To take the test yourself, head over to

Writing this, I found myself asking ‘is the merging of communications teams a direct result of social media?’ Well, yes.  Although we have always had social media, we haven’t always had mass media. Standage states, “social media is not new, it has been around for centuries.” (Standage 2013). The introduction of mass media, along with this new form of social media whereby you can post reviews and opinions online for everyone to see, signifies that social media has evolved from frail physical conversations to concrete statements plastered online. As a direct result of this, the merging of communications teams takes place. As PR practitioners,we have the emotional intelligence allowing us to anticipate public reaction. This is precisely why merging with marketing and advertising teams will be beneficial to everyone. We become the gatekeepers able to shape the message using emotional intelligence throughout the whole creative process which creates a more relatable experience for the intended audience(s).

From the perspective of potential clients (as well as their consumers) the best service wins. Operating together, we are able to offer new prospects that were potentially unreachable in a time where we were working as individual institutions. Many practitioners argue that this will be the downfall of PR. However, if we take light of this inevitable future of PR and communications together, we begin to understand that we can both learn techniques and lessons from each other when it comes to growing and building a coherent industry between once individual sectors.

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Standage, T., (2013) Writing on the Wall: Social Media – the first 2,000 years. London: Bloomsbury.

Bayles, S., (2015) Public Relations’ Digital Resolution: A PR pro’s guide to a brighter future and bigger budgets. [Online]. [Accessed 03 November 2015].

Sommer & Sommer Available from: [Accessed on 03 January 2016].


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