Blurred lines: What PR and media agencies can learn from each other

As someone who has worked both sides of the fence, Emma Graham offers her tips for PR and media agencies to make the most of their collaborations.

At face value media and PR are polar opposites. One is paid. The other is earned. Media is great at reach, whereas PR is better at influence.emma-graham-from-fleishmann-hillard

Why then would a PR agency be interested in hiring someone from media?

This is the question I was asked (and have asked myself) while making the move from media to PR.

I’d spent two years in media but always been fascinated by the relationship between buying and PR. The reality is both industries are changing – buyers are shifting focus towards native and content-based advertising, while many PR programs now include paid elements to help amplify content and reach.

As a media person applying for a PR job I realised my value lay in the blurring of these lines. I saw what media could do to help PR, and what PR could do to help me develop my own career.

Here are some things I’ve learned that could benefit media and PR professionals:

1) PR knows how to story tell with unprecedented authenticity

With the trend of native and content-driven advertising dominating the media industry, suddenly clients are able to have control over content being published.

Media buyers are investing substantial budget in delivering strategic messages to their audience through content, but how much control is too much? Ultimately, audiences engage with something they care about; they will share stories that they want to tell, but don’t necessarily know how to tell.

PR has got this right. We work with the media to not just tell the story the client wants to see, but to tell a story that their audience wants to hear. The collaboration between media and PR could bring new strength to content advertising by maximising the authenticity of content messaging through targeted outlets.

Try this: Discuss content briefs with media and PR teams. A conversation with a broad range of insights can ensure that the client’s story is communicated in a targeted, authentic way.

2) Media buyers are leading the way in maximising budgets

In media we are trained to leverage our clients’ budgets in the most efficient way possible. Much of a media buyer’s day is spent negotiating with media reps, haggling prices, pushing for additional value, and ensuring that every dollar is accounted for and effective.

With budgets in PR limited, this attitude is essential to embrace. PR teams should be looking to the most effective platforms and partners to reach an audience, and how they can leverage media spend across these platforms to build on their relationship with that publisher and grow editorial support.

Try this: Brief your media and PR teams together and ensure an integrated response. This allows you to identify areas to leverage media investment and grow relationships with media from both an advertising and editorial perspective.

3) Frequent communication between media and PR teams will strengthen overall client service

Media buyers quickly become used to building a relationship with their client’s creative agency. While at times a testing relationship, investing in the habit of daily communication can prove extremely beneficial in gaining a broader understanding of the client.

Without a similar investment in the relationship, PR teams risk failing to maximise the effectiveness of our work for clients. Both media and PR teams have unique insights into different areas of campaigns, client insights and wider business objectives, all of which open doors for proactive opportunities and improved client service.

The net of it

After making the move from media to PR, I’m surprised there’s still little cross-discipline integration between the two, beyond the obvious.

My experience has shown me that these industries are innately linked, each with the means to help the other excel. The ongoing integration of our industries is undoubtedly progressing – it’s time we embraced the opportunity to collaborate in its entirety.

Emma Graham is an account executive at FleishmanHillard