Posted by & filed under Technology PR.

Tom Foremski posts on a recent conversation with ex-Sun PR man Andy Lark here.

Readers may recollect Andy sparked some discussion last August with his question about what you ought to pay a PR agency.

Clearly Andy did find an agency that satisified his criteria – the bad news for them now is that – according to Tom:

"Andy told me he recently
noticed that he was starting to spend more money on buying Google adwords
than on PR. And when push comes to shove, I know where most companies
will put their money. You can pin a ROI on GOOG adwords that you can’t
with PR. This is a very significant crossover point. It represents one of the
many threats to traditional PR. And there are many PR agencies that
only understand the old approach, no matter what they say about
new/social media. There is a disconnect in the PR world that is going to hit that industry hard."

Nick Carr  has also been riffing on the meme of how IT automation is removing not just low skilled jobs:

"(This) provides an eye-opening account of what happens when business,
and in particular media, moves from the physical to the virtual world.
For those who might be hoping that the decline in jobs in traditional
media will be offset by growth in employment in digital media, the news
is not good:

One chart shows the combined categories of publishing
and broadcasting, both traditional and Internet-based. Over all,
employment is down 11 percent. In those six years, employment in
traditional paper-based publishing is down 13 percent. Broadcasting
employment is off 3 percent. The traditional industries, between them,
have shed 148,000 workers.

Did the Internet make up the difference? Just the opposite.
Internet publishing and broadcasting now employs 36,600 people, and
that figure is down 29 percent from six years ago. A larger
Internet-related area covers Internet service providers, search portals
and data processing. It now has 385,000 workers, down 25 percent over
the last six years."

Couple this with Nick Carr’s view on the growing inequality in wealth. And his obvervation that:
"The next wave of "superstars" may be algorithms – and the small number of people that control them."

And what does this mean for PR?

First – the vast of majority of work currently done by PR agencies will be automated to the point where it will be pointless hiring and agency to do it (the fact that many agencies barely make a decent profit now is an indicator of where things are already heading).

Second – pace Tom Foremski – there is a growing gap between what client companies value and what PR agencies offer.

Third – traditional PR skills will need be combined with a level of online marketing and technology skills that most trad agencies don’t possess

Fourth – the large agency PR model will become economically unsustainable

Fifth – the PR industry has no  valuable algorithms

OK – there maybe a little exageration here – for example, somebody making a living out of doing trad PR is likely to carry on doing this for a couple of years yet – but sooner or later – as per Nick Carr above, unless you have the skills demanded by clients (and they will be asking for it if they haven’t started already), you may find yourself trying a new career path.

5 Responses to “Will Google Ad Words spell the death of PR?”

  1. Stuart Bruce - BMA PR

    It’s about understanding how it all works together. For one of my clients it is Adwords that drives traffic to the site, but it is the PR that helps do the conversion into first a trial and a sale. The Adword spend is higher than the PR spend, but the gap is closing (PR up, Adwords down).

  2. Ed Lee

    As the importance of “search” in PR grows (as part of reputation management) along with the ‘new news release’, adwords will become a part of “media relations” to support new releases.

    We’ve already proposed to support an optimised news release (as we call it at iStudio) with an adwords buy – mostly due to google’s lag in indexing certain content.

    Looking forward to a good discussion on this…




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