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create strong financial returns for shareholders. More

companies now believe that doing good is not just a

nice-to-do but essential for a vibrant business.

Consider, for example, the rapid decision by 13 brands

to discontinue their relationship with the Los Angeles

Clippers in the wake of the revelations about owner

Donald Sterling’s comments. Or CVS Caremark’s

decision to stop selling tobacco and Gap’s decision to

raise the minimum wage for its workers.

All of these examples illustrate an increased focus on

establishing trust with customers by doing the right

thing, demonstrating leadership and putting

engagement and integrity ahead of making money.

Shared value is the new normal. However, this also

creates complexity in how CMOs and CCOs divide

their roles.

A second factor is technology. Consumers, for

example, no longer differentiate an engagement with

a corporation’s call center from a similar interaction

on Twitter. This can cause ambiguity over roles,

organizational structure, skills, partners and budgets.

And it comes just as CEOs are asking both their

CCOs and CMOs to be smarter, leaner, faster and

more measurable.

Here’s an example of how roles are changing.

When Leslie Berland, once the social media lead within

PR at American Express, noted with their research

team that card members were highly engaged in using

social media to inform purchase decisions, it inspired a

partnership with Foursquare. This collaboration allowed

AMEX card members to redeem offers whenever they

“checked in” at participating merchants.

The program, which was met with widespread praise,

was later replicated on several other social platforms.

And today Leslie Berland is [AMEX’s] SVP of digital

partnerships and development, directing eight-figure

marketing budgets.

If tomorrow’s PR professionals embrace the complexity,

empathize with and satisfy CCOs, but also connect with

and inspire CMOs, they will be in a position to have the

same kind of clout that Leslie Berland does at AMEX.

The Evolution of the PR Agency

The third trend that I want to cover is a dramatic shift

that is taking place in the marketing services

landscape. This is even more profound than what’s

happening in the media or on the client side. So I will

spend a bit of time here in addressing these changes

and then the opportunities it creates for your students.

Again, the overarching theme: blurred lines.

Not long ago, in the “Mad Men” era, agency roles were

very clearly defined. Creative agencies, media buying

firms and PR agencies all had distinct “swim lanes”

that rarely overlapped. That’s no longer the case.

Today CMOs are increasingly telling us that great ideas

can come from anywhere. They don’t put their agency

partners in boxes any more. This blurring of boundaries

between agencies is a tremendous opportunity to

be provocative.

So what then is the future of the PR agency? There are

several ways to look at this.

First, let’s examine it from a pure financial perspective.

According to Ad Age, the top 10 PR agencies last year

amassed $4.5 billion in revenues, or four percent of

the marketing services landscape. This is dwarfed,

however, by digital agencies ($10.1 billion), media

buying agencies ($9.2 billion) and advertising agencies

($13.6 billion).

Of these four categories only advertising agencies are

seeing their revenues decline. Why?

That leads into my more philosophical view of

the marketplace.

I am convinced that this is because the era of

“marketing communications” – where classic,

orchestrated advertising leads – is now in winter. It is

giving way to an era of “communications marketing” –

where spontaneous storytelling at the speed of now

(everything we are covering this week) – is in full bloom.

Let’s deconstruct this.

It all starts with a realization that the traditional

meaning of marketing no longer works. In 1959 Philip

Kotler defined marketing as …“Creating, delivering and

communicating value to customers and managing

customer relationships in ways that also benefit the

organization and its shareholders.”

Instead, in this new construct, we see the word

“communications” becoming more prominent. Guy

Kawasaki, a best-selling author, co-founder of, former chief evangelist at Apple, wisely

defined communications as follows …“The goal of

communications is to provide information that moves

people to action.”

The market is beginning to share our view that

“marketing communications” is backwards. It

stresses advertising, selling and image. It rewards

coordinating and pushing messages in one direction

and, all too often, is only about the short-term.