Is the Future of Advertising Public Relations?

I know, it’s a strong statement, right?

I’ve always been a firm believer that it takes more than just one discipline to move a product, get your message across, create interest, ring the cash register, or more importantly, engage your audience. As things continue to evolve, smart marketers are looking at newer, more exciting and engaging ways to reach their audiences that will offer the best possible return on investment, right? There it is again. That “E” word: engage.
I stumbled upon an interesting blog entry the other day from Social Media Explorer, and also borrowed the title. It’s loaded with some pretty good stuff and certainly gets you thinking. The entry is about how bloggers are a great medium for product launches and obtaining exposure. It later touches upon the ways brands reach out to bloggers- be it a little pay for play, a.k.a. advertising, or traditional editorial coverage, better known as public relations. The article touches upon some very important points:

1. Why advertising dollars are not being spent on blogs, but public relations initiatives are. Remember, bloggers can be very influential because their audience tends to be very focused and defined. That, however, hurts them for getting advertisers. See point two below…

2. Bloggers often complain that they get the PR pitch, but can’t get them to spend money to advertise on their blog. Why? Well, for starters, bloggers can help put themselves in contention for advertising dollars by quantifying their audience numbers, including traffic, demographics, reach, etc.

Interesting, right?

As a result, some creativity and a little ingenuity has been born: the sponsored post. Is it wrong? You decide. But what’s important to learn from this is that when it comes to the future of social media, it’s about communicating and engaging your audience. It’s not about one-way messaging or simply blanketing the world with a marketing gimmick on Facebook, Twitter and the like. That’s just obnoxious and people will see right through it. It’s about engaging, communicating, being informative and connecting with your audience — aka Facebook friends, Twitter “tweets” and so on. As the Social Media Explorer blog entry says:

“…whatever the future of advertising is, it will be centered on content and engagement which is what good public relations has been doing for years.

I couldn’t agree more! Some food for thought. What do you think?

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