Happy, thingy. A PR’s response to an ad agency’s moan

Scott Rhodie Fleishman-HillardOn Monday ad agency Droga 5 published an ad decrying the fact that working in advertising is less fun than it used to be. In the tongue-in-cheek response, Scott Rhodie offers a PR perspective.

Happy, thingy.

Remember how they used to describe this business of ours as ‘the one where most marketers put money after they realise they have some left over from their TVC campaign?’  

Glorious long hours. Month-long campaigns with loads of coverage. Copious, free drinks at your desk after 9pm (back before they stopped stocking beer and wine in the tiny fridge) and lashings of early starts and annoyed clients that they didn’t get that article in that magazine that their mum reads.

Then again, you probably do.

happy whatever droga 5Because, for the latest generation of PR folks, such nostalgic banter is exactly the same now as it was then. At best, the stuff of legend is the moment we get an image or article on the front page of a national newspaper or top blog, at worst, an annoying reminder that the goal posts haven’t changed that much and that advertisers still rule the roost with their huge budgets.

And there’s something wrong with that, something very wrong with that. It just means that, well, to be brutally honest, we laugh less than we should, smile less than we should and beat ourselves up a lot more than is medically advisable.

Admittedly, without our infamous industry blogs, we have succeeded in creating the perfect tool for reminding us that the advertising world still gets more coverage than us for their “over-reaching creativity?!?”. Some might say they perform a vital service in keeping the overall industry honest. But since the people saying it are usually from rival agencies and anonymous it makes it difficult to believe a word that most of them say – except everyone who posts a comments abusing me for writing this post.

What we do lack, perhaps, is a place where we can celebrate what it is we actually do: get real coverage for clients, communicate the messages of companies to the media and public without shouting at any of them and not being ‘wanky’ enough to think we would defend the word ‘ideas’ because, let’s be honest, that’s a load of pish.

After all, it does take a rare breed of courage to be honest.

When you are young, wobbly and unformed, you can’t defend yourself but you can be honest, straight to the point and not beat around the bush – an increasingly good idea in today’s Internet-based world.

The simple truth is, we are honest because we have to be (actually, to be precise, because it’s what we are paid to do). But we also do it because we love the idea of ensuring the correct message gets out there. We dream, albeit surreptitiously, of making campaigns for clients that are brilliant, captivating, and, yes, that help our clients get the right message to the greater world. We don’t have the egos to think that what we do will be enduring we just want to get the clients messages out there.

It’s one of many of our guilty pleasures about the industry that we still enjoy working in.

So assuming that as you’re still reading you must be part of this – you know what, I’m not even gonna try and re-write that sentence. Seriously, have you read it? I nearly vomited when I did. I literally got to ‘idea-buying’ and looked around for a noose.

I’ll happily pat the back of the PR industry for putting up with many ad agencies thinking that they are the most important part of the marketing equation.

From the big agencies that have battled all year with the pressures of keeping the big ships afloat; to the upstart start-ups that have scratched and clawed over the past twelve months to get a foot on the rung and get themselves those first few clients.

From the account executive, to senior clients (and everyone in between). Hot, cold, big or small, public relations in 2010 was not for the timid (same as every other year then), but there is evidence that things will get better when we all return for the break.

So, let’s concede that thanks to the embrace of digital that PR communications professionals, advertising executives, marketers, digital experts are finally coming together into one massive playground that is starting to equalise all of them so let’s have some fun with it.

Yes, with our clothes on.

Or off.

Happy 2010.

From me.

  • Scott Rhodie is VP of digital media at PR agency Fleishman-Hillard

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