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Hey New York Times, It's the Not-So-New Look of PR
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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So, I'm reading the New York Times (humblebrag) and I found this article that began, "A GIANT in public relations is spinning in a new direction..." I figured that this should be good, so I perused said article only to be disappointed with my thought bubble screaming "Meh!" Evidently, one of the big five, Fleishman-Hillard, is rebranding itself to...wait for it...FleishmanHillard. (See, they removed the hyphen and...ah, never mind.) Its new slogan will be "The Power of True." To me, this is where the misnomer began. 

Truth be told, the changes at FleishmanHillard — with worldwide revenue of more than $500 million and 2,500 employees — are meant to signal how it is striving to become an integrated marketing communications agency that offers services like advertising and social media marketing in addition to public relations.

There's the rub. FleishmanHillard is bringing copywriting, advertising, and marketing into its fold. This will give the agency new offerings for its clients, a refreshed look for the 21st century, and...the ability to catch up with many other boutique-sized firms that are already doing this! You see, it was called the recession and this left agencies — in spite of size or stature — looking for ways to reinvent themselves to create money. Though these major domo agencies will never admit, they are simply catching up with the pack...not leading it, as this article would have you believe. They aren't reinventing the wheel. Rather, these über firms are simply adding a new spoke in said wheel to keep it rolling. Observe:

"‘True’ is the central concept we’re rebranding on, to deliver on our promises to be the trusted adviser to guide you through the maze of choices,” said Dave Senay, president and chief executive at FleishmanHillard in St. Louis, which since 1997 has been part of the Diversified Agency Services unit of the Omnicom Group, the second-largest agency holding company after WPP. "It’s not that we’re going to become an ad agency,” Mr. Senay said, adding: “We’re moving into a different space. The vision is to be the most complete communications company in the world. Somebody’s got to be able to put it all together."

MEMO to the honored Dave Senay, many someones already have put it together. In fact, I try not to make it a practice to shamelessly plug my employ, but I work at a great agency called HCK2 Partners that has done this for more than 10 years. There's another rub. Just because the big guys in the agency world haven't done it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Becoming integrated is an answer to full-service needs from good clients. Having a one-stop shop is crucial to great customer service and keeping the ideas flowing. In other words, outsourcing isn't always the answer. However, thanks to this article, it seems the epiphany to growth just occurred in the 21st century. 

Kudos to the firms for evolving. It's necessary. It's important. And it's where the agency world is growing. Just know that you didn't invent fire with this bold move. You simply are fanning the flames.

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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