About four years ago we noticed a fundamental shift in marketing. PR — which had always been the lead tactic of emerging technology companies — was becoming less relevant. We never saw the CEO in pitch meetings anymore. You can read our thoughts on what was causing this shift in marketing.
I remember telling my partners at the time that I felt PR would go away as a standalone discipline. Four years later I see strong evidence that my prediction is coming true. I am seeing shrinking PR budgets and burgeoning marketing budgets. PR executives are getting squeezed out while marketing execs thrive. And the PR industry is growing slowly — if at all — while integrated marketing is exploding.
It makes sense. The last time marketing was fully integrated was in the Mad Men era of advertising, circa 1964. But one size did not fit all, and as the world went from a few channels to hundreds, a few major magazines to thousands, and as 800-numbers and direct mail blossomed, dozens of boutique segments sprung up to offer specialized expertise for the smartest companies.
Chief among those were PR firms, who matched companies that had content to share with publications that needed content to print.
But then came the Internet and now everything is online. Each and every one of these specialties has become, well, less special. They are all now simply a way to attract people to your web presence. They are all simple arrows in your marketing quiver. Content must reside where your customers are, not in silos.
So the future I see forming is one with no silos. Just marketing or, more specifically, inbound marketing. You perform research and apply strategy to develop your personas. You then create campaigns to attract, nurture and convert prospects. You use analytics to measure and optimize. Rinse, lather, repeat.
The question is not which silos will remain (answer: none). The real question is who will run inbound marketing? My bet is on the person who spots this sea change before the rest of the silo-owners do.