Being eaten alive.

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8 big takeaways at the bottom

This semester I performed more radical surgery than I ever have upon the syllabus for my Advertising and Creativity class in the USC Annenberg Masters in Communications program. I believe students need to learn about the dynamics of change as much as they do creativity. Throughout their careers they will be continually tackling the process of change. Particularly in Communication, change will be a constant.

So why is this important to you?

Because if you want to know what new-era changes are lining up for your business or organization, observe the Communication business. It’s the place where new technologies, formats, culture and economics hit first. Advertising and all Communication is being shaken, twisted, turned upside-down and re-thought every day. And then re-thought again a week later. That’s because nothing represents and responds to the needs of a new world as does Communication. And today, every business and organization is in the Communication business, as every internal department is in a collaboration with some form of Communication.

Integrated into the new syllabus are six panels of change with top people in each field:

Panel 1: How the PR business is taking a bite out of the Advertising business.
Panel 2: How millions of branding dollars are now being poured into CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility campaigns.
Panel 3: How Social Media is pulling millions out of paid media budgets.
Panel 4: How Deloitte and other big consulting firms are establishing creative service departments to compete with ad agencies.
Panel 5: How Design is now the big Communication.
Panel 6: China, particularly Shanghai is evolving new Communication methodologies.

Panel Number 1

The first panel on the PR business eating the lunch of the Advertising business has already taken place. On it was Jennifer Baker, Executive Director, Golin-Harris, LA. Megan Castilla, former student, Principal, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, LA. Frederick Pruss, former student, Crisis Management, Edelman, Berlin. (Frederick just happened to be in LA and I grabbed him.) USC Annenberg sent forty alumni as a back-to-school night to sit in on this panel.

 From left to right: Jennifer Baker, Executive Director, Golin-Harris, LA. Megan Castilla, former student, Principal, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, LA. Frederick Pruss, former student, Crisis Management, Edelman, Berlin.

From left to right: Jennifer Baker, Executive Director, Golin-Harris, LA. Megan Castilla, former student, Principal, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, LA. Frederick Pruss, former student, Crisis Management, Edelman, Berlin.

The 8 biggest takeaways from the panel:

  1. Clients are no longer happy to be pouring millions into paid media advertising, the main profit centers of ad agencies. They want online exposure through social media campaigns, which are an area of PR agency expertise, and cost far less to implement.

  2. They want to be associated with social media influencers who can recommend and give testimony about their products, targeted at the social media’s followers. This too is an expertise of PR firms and is far cheaper than paid media campaigns.

  3. They want positive stories in blogs, podcasts and youtube videos, as well as sponsorships in this media, also an expertise of PR firms and more affordable.

  4. They want positive stories in the press, much of it now online, also an expertise of PR firms.

  5. Clients are no longer riveted on the creative expertise of ad agencies, because today, everyone is creating and the standards of excellence are now debatable. So ad agency creative excellence doesn’t mean that much to them.

  6. PR firms have data to back up their effectiveness, such as click thru’s, time spent watching videos and actual sales.

  7. When clients need ad agency expertise, the PR firms either bring in the people who can do it, have them on staff, or call upon ad agency partners through their network, who can partner with them.

  8. PR firms are now calling themselves Communication firms, because they know where this industry is headed and that Communication is in the lead.



Next blog: The CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility Panel

For consulting, workshops and speaking on Tackling Change, Communication and Creativity, email: gary@GaryWexler.com. If you want proof of how powerful this can be, you can talk to my former students who are in leading positions at major corporations, startups and nonprofits. And if you want to address the issue of my book, Sorry Millennials, we’re not dead yet: The Boomer Rebellion, I can do that, too.

Gary Wexler