Native Advertising Will Not Kill Public Relations

It always amuses me when people make the argument that native advertising is a threat to PR. Arik Hanson‘s piece today in Ragan’s PR Daily claims paid content in the form of reporter-written articles will replace the role traditional public relations professionals play for their clients. What his piece fails to acknowledge is how public relations has evolved. Getting client quotes and features in publications like the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal are valuable and necessary to keeping a client happy, but that is a tiny part of the value delivered by a PR professional. Our value comes from not just being a “placement maker” but being a broad public relations advisor and strategist. A similar argument was made back in 2008 by burgeoning social media “experts” who claimed that social media sites like Twitter would take over traditional PR. They were wrong then, just as Hanson is wrong now.

The PR industry shifts and changes just as other industries do. When PR supports business development it becomes a valuable asset of a larger communications and marketing team. Not in place of, but alongside, social media and native advertising. And it will continue to do so when the next ad craze comes along.

Clients will continue to use, value and need public relations partners to provide strategic counsel on activities far beyond just media placements. Those of us who are PR professionals develop message points when the media seeks an interview about a potentially controversial issue impacting an organization, secure speaking engagements for an attorney and advise them on which nominations to pursue and which fly by night nominations to ignore. We develop content for a firm’s website and educate firm leaders about not just the value of social media but how to truly leverage social media for tangible benefit. We train company executives in how to work with the media before reporter interviews and shape newsletters and client alerts to ensure they are reader friendly.

There is room for both native advertising and traditional public relations, and the former obviously does not replace the later. That’s like saying will handle your high-value legal work.