Head to Head: Does creative respect PR as much as PR respects creative?

Mumbrella invites the industry's senior PR professionals to share their opposing views on the industry's biggest issues. In the return of Head to Head, Daylight Agency's Karen Keech and Poem's Rob Lowe argue whether or not the creative industry respects public relations as much public relations respects creative?

As the lines between creative agencies and PR agencies continue to blur and earned media becomes hot property, the industry must ask: does creative hold PR in the same regard as PR holds creative?

Both Daylight Agency’s Karen Keech and Poem’s Rob Lowe agree that the creative industry has come a long way in respecting public relations, but the question remains – has enough been done?

Keech says that after merging with a creative agency, she has experienced the greater respect creatives now have for PR professionals. However, Lowe believes there is still a long way to go.

Karen Keech, senior consultant at Daylight Agency, argues ‘Yes’:

Keech says: “The edges between [PR and creative] are now fuzzier than ever.”

“But with the evolution of public relations and its related ability to drive influence through multiple touch-points, I believe advertising creatives have quickly come to respect that PR professionals can add immense value by complementing ‘paid’ spend to drive a campaign further.

“I’ll admit, I think understanding the skill and strategy involved in crafting a successful public relations campaign has been a learning curve for some creatives. But having recently merged with a creative shop I can see first-hand the positive change in respect creatives have for their PR counterparts.

“To be honest, some of the best campaigns I’ve worked on recently have featured a clever mix of both advertising and PR.

“Public relations and advertising are similar in concept: both are designed to raise awareness of a company or product in a positive manner. With advertising, you tell people how great you are. With publicity, others sing your praises.

“However, the edges between the two are now fuzzier than ever.

“A great example is Elon Musk launching a convertible Tesla into space. Regardless of whether you think this is an advertising idea or a PR stunt – the idea is amazingly creative.

“Perpetuating the ‘us and them’ silos of ‘creativeness’ is missing the point entirely.

“So, to answer the question, both must respect each other, because it takes strategic creative thinking at all levels to ensure that your client’s message will get through and generate awareness.”

Rob Lowe, co-founder and managing director of Poem, argues ‘No’:

Lowe says: “Both sides have had problems understanding each other”

“This largely depends on which creative and which PR you talk to, but in general, I’d say no.

“Traditionally, PR has been focused on tactics that earn ‘free’ media coverage, as opposed to brand strategy and big ideas. In turn, advertising creative’s use paid media to broadcast strategic ideas that make their clients sound good. Both sides have had problems understanding each other because they start from different places and that, in the past, has led to a divide in silos.

“Many creatives have seen PR as unstrategic and only see the benefit, in terms of amplifying advertising creative and making award entries look better. PR’s value creativity more, but can also perceive Creatives as somewhat arrogant, and unable to understand which ideas will earn attention.

“But times are changing. Creatives are increasingly seeing the benefit in ideas that earn more awareness than what you can pay for. It wins more Cannes Lions. The younger generation, who’ve been brought up in a digital world, understand the concept of ‘earn’ better. Likewise, the more modern PR agencies have ramped up their strategic and creative clout and are producing earned creative ideas, which can then be supported by Paid, Owned and Earned Media channels.

“So whilst generally I think PR respects and needs Creatives more, there are some creatives and some PRs doing it differently. The next 5 years will be interesting to see who can master earned creativity the fastest.”

  • As told to Zoe Wilkinson. If you’re a senior PR professional who would like to take part in a future Head to Head, please email zoew@mumbrella.com.au

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