Advertising. Marketing. Public Relations. In the past, professionals working in these disciplines stayed in their own lanes. But with the advance of digital technologies, the distinct ‘lanes’ have merged. Today’s Public Relations professionals need media monitoring tools to successfully navigate this transformation.

We teamed with Fred Cook, Director of the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations and chairman of Golin, a global public relations firm for our eBook, “The Convergence of PR and Marketing.” Read on for a preview:

All business sectors are subject to the inevitable changes that come along with advancements in technology, improvements in education or perhaps macro-economic disruptions. But every once in a while, an industry undergoes a major sea change that has the potential to redefine the category itself. This is the case today with the public relations profession.

The very nature of public relations and what it means to “do PR” is changing underneath our feet right now. Corporate clients are increasingly focused on executing integrated marketing campaigns that can be more precisely monitored, tracked and evaluated for direct return on investment. In the digital age, that has translated into blurred lines between previously distinct professional disciplines such as advertising, marketing and public relations.

87% of PR pros worldwide believe the term “public relations” won’t even describe the work they will be doing in five years.

The result is that we are now seeing “convergence” of PR and Marketing—The idea that two previously independent disciplines are now merging into a single, unified profession.

Monitoring this trend toward convergence, and understanding its implications, is one of the most critical issues facing the public relations industry today; if not identified and navigated proactively, it has the potential to diminish the role of the PR professional.

The purpose of this eBook is to document the convergence of PR and marketing, identify six specific trends for PR professionals to contemplate as they plan their response to this convergence, and then take a glimpse into the future to assess where we might be headed as an industry.

The Convergence Train

The PR/Marketing convergence train has been coming down the tracks for a while now. Those of us who study the public relations industry from both an academic and a practitioner perspective (in addition to my role with the USC Annenberg Center, I’m also the chairman of Golin) have seen it by the changes in the content used in RFPs, the eyebrow-raising conversations with clients, and the rapid transformation of the media industry from an easily defined world of print and broadcast to the vast digital landscape we have today.

In 2014, Weber Shandwick released a global study (“Convergence Ahead: The Integration of Communications & Marketing”) that explored the convergence phenomenon by interviewing chief marketing officers in companies of all sizes, from all industries and from multiple countries. They concluded that the dual-structure of corporate communications and corporate marketing was losing its relevance and efficiency in a digital world, noting “companies are responding by merging their communications and marketing functions to respond more quickly and strategically with one voice.”

In 2017, Nasdaq Corporate Solutions released its CCO Measurement Survey, which concluded that the metrics used by chief communications officers further illustrate the convergence of public relations, corporate communications and marketing.

Specifically, the most frequently used KPIs were focused on marketing results, such as website traffic, search ranking and sales/lead conversion. Noticeably absent were traditional PR metrics—e.g., reputation, awareness, share of voice, etc.—let alone alternative measurements for PR outcomes related to government relations initiatives or other discreet efforts.

As the convergence train moves on full speed ahead, there are six key trends that PR professionals need to be alert for and be prepared to navigate. These takeaways are drawn from the GCR17 research published by The USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations.

Fill out the form at the right for details on the trends, including

  • Mixing PR and Marketing
  • Embracing Digital Storytelling
  • Media Intelligence for Changing Metrics
  • And more!