This week I and the team here at number 33 went to NMK's Online PR debate event. Hats off to the organiser Ian Delaney. It was a great mix of people. Never before have I seen such a broad set of the digital PR industry in one place. I think it's fair to say every agency was represented. It was like the people whose blogs we read, whose Twitter channels we follow and people who, even though you've only seen their photo on a social network, you'd actually want to go over and chat to them. The journalists who cover the industry were there too, and the speakers, James, Anthony, Stuart and Roger, were on top form.
One theme that stood out during the event was the talk of the budget and innovation land grab, and its effect on the kind of digital PR work taking place. Evidence seems to be that, when digital PR is a relatively small bolt-on, it's never going to create stand-out results. But when it's funded properly, it does. Not rocket science really. And this happens in PR increasingly often (such is the good fortune that's keeping us busy). But compared to recent similar events, there was a much larger contingent of online PR people in the room working in above the line environments, with 'much bigger' budgets to make use of, they said.
This goes back to last year's debate, where the discussion was a little less advanced, but strangely similar. It was about how PR firms would be gobbled up by the elephant in the room - the above the line agencies with the bigger budgets who are starting to do PR. It now seems online PR is moving further into various other parts of marketing for a lot of agencies.
What we might find next time around, when the debate continues, could go both ways. Will the digital PR types have completed the transition into digital in a broader sense, becoming part of the full service offering? Or will the chasm have widened between budget sizes and real innovation?