That Sound You Hear is the Crash of Advertising

I remember the days when ad people looked down at PR types. They had the big bucks budgets while the PR people toiled away on the leftovers writing press releases, arranging company events and the like.

Advertising sells! Well, maybe not so much anymore.

A story about a company in a prestigious newspaper like The New York Times has always been more valued more than an ad in the same paper – that old third-party endorsement. The shrinking newspaper and magazine landscape is evidence that advertisers are gravitating to other communications channels, most particularly social media. And what they are doing is not called advertising. They are reaching out to their customers through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+ direct feeds, webinars, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. Increasingly, they want to interact with their customers at company-sponsored events, product samplings, and through community service.

Funny thing. It’s the PR people who are leading the way  They are writing the blogs, articles and opinion pieces. They are the ones creating community relations programs – like they always have – but now these communities are more often than not reached online. These are the company’s primary activities and not just an adjunct to advertising.

Here’s another thought: maybe the terms advertising, public relations, publicity, promotion and direct response should be consigned to the compactor. Those words just don’t seem to work in the new online communities that are forming like runaway amoebas.

How about new terms like collaborators, community builders, prophets, enablers?  Or maybe one word that summarizes everything we are: communicators.

Advertising? That’s so 20th century.

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