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The communications briefing: PR firms steal creative territory from ad agencies


S4 Capital beefs up analytics division
Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital unveiled the acquisition of London data firm Conversion Works and South Korean consultancy Datalicious Korea. S4 Capital said the two companies will be merged with Mightyhive, its programmatic media division, which has now expanded its presence to 15 countries and 21 cities. MightyHive will also merge with South Korea-based Datalicious Korea, a Google Analytics company, which helps firms measure if their social media campaigns are paying off.
Belfast Telegraph

PR firms loosen ad agencies’ grip on creative
The lines between paid media (ads) and earned media (editorial coverage) are all but erased, wrote AdAge’s Linsey Rittenhouse, with an increasing number of PR firms crossing into territory once commanded solely by ad agencies. The transition is being driven in part, she said, by marketers’ demands for integrated solutions, the rise of social media and viral content, and financial pressures forcing PR firms to redefine their business models to remain competitive. No longer are such firms as Edelman, BCW, and Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Rogers & Cowan PMK-BNC judged solely by the number of media impressions they generate for a brand; rather, they need to display their prowess on creative, social, digital and paid media. Weber Shandwick touts content as a core capability to clients, also citing proficiency in art direction, design, video and integrated production, digital and business strategy, paid planning and buying, and community management and influence. Its recent work includes “Pure Sounds of Michigan,” an album of nature sounds the firm made to attract tourists, and a social campaign for Chevy Silverado that leaned on its sponsorship of “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.” “We are brought in maybe 50% of the time to be a creative, social or digital partner,” says Gail Heimann, Weber Shandwick CEO and president.

Ad spend growth continues thanks to streaming and cinema boom
Advertising spend hit £6bn in the second quarter, as booming demand for films and TV shows helped drive sharp growth in the video on-demand and cinema sectors. UK ad spend grew 5.8% year-on-year in the three months to the end of July, marking the 24th consecutive quarter of growth, revealed a surge in advertising for broadcaster video on-demand and cinema, as brands cash in on insatiable consumer demand for the latest films and TV shows. Video on-demand posted a 20% increase in ad spend over the quarter, while cinema surged just under 50% thanks to a string of new advertisers. Karen Stacey, chief executive of Digital Cinema Media, commented: “Despite the ever-growing proliferation of content choices across media platforms, people continue to flock to the cinema, with the medium consistently delivering strong audiences. We are also seeing more bespoke for cinema content being created, with advertisers pushing the boundaries of the big screen experience.” Overall, ad spend increased more than 5% to £12bn in the first six months of the year, according to industry bodies the Advertising Association (AA) and Warc.
City AM

MWWPR launches "Z-Suite" research and insight tool
Independent PR firm MWWPR launched a new PR research program aimed at helping clients to reach Generation Z, the demographic cohort born in the mid-1990s to early 2000s that will, according to a recent white paper from Altitude, will comprise 40% of global consumers by 2020. Developed with American University’s School of Communication, the program is designed to empower PR and strategic communication undergraduate and graduate students to generate creative ideas that meet the unique objectives of MWWPR's current and future clients, while simultaneously applying classroom learnings to a rapidly-changing PR landscape.

PR Newswire

Kantar director appointed Master of the Company of Communicators
Kantar’s director of forward planning services Sarah Wait has been appointed by the Company of Communicators to the position of Master for the year 2019 to 2020. In her year-long tenure as Master, Ms Wait will be responsible for leading the agenda of the Company, leading stakeholder engagement, raising its profile, as well as shaping best practice throughout the communications industry.
Prolific London

M&C Saatchi appointed by Homebase
M&C Saatchi Public Relations has been selected by Homebase to run the retailer’s consumer PR, corporate PR and social media activity for the next two years. The agency joins a newly appointed roster of marketing and creative agencies working with Homebase to support the retailer’s turnaround plan.
DIY Week

Conservatives hire fracking lobbyist to write manifesto
The Guardian reported that Rachel Wolf, a lobbyist for fracking company Cuadrilla, is writing the Conservatives’ election manifesto while continuing to work as a partner at Public First, a business which lobbies ministers on behalf of the shale gas industry. According to the paper, her company also represents the Internet Association, the trade body for major tech companies including Uber, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Airbnb, Microsoft and Amazon. The organisation is attempting to influence the government’s policies on online harms, the regulation of social media and taxes on digital companies – all of which are likely to feature in some form in the Conservative manifesto. Ms Wolf co-founded Public First with her husband James Frayne in 2016.
The Guardian

Ruth Davidson backs down on plan to take job with lobbying firm
Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has said she will not be taking up a “contentious” senior advisor position with PR firm Tulchan Communications, following staunch criticism that it would be a conflict of interest, given her role as an MSP. The SNP said she was "holding her constituents and the Scottish Parliament as a whole in contempt", while Labour said her Edinburgh constituents "deserve an MSP that will represent them, not private corporations". Ms Davidson said she had sat down with parliamentary officials to "go through the code of conduct in detail in order to avoid any conflict and ensure I would be working within the rules at all times", but that as a result of the reaction by other parties, she and the firm had "agreed not to proceed with the appointment".
BBC News  The Scotsman

Facebook agrees to pay £500k fine
Facebookhas agreed to pay £500,000 for breaches of data protection law relating to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the information regulator has confirmed. The Information Commissioner's Office last year fined Facebook after it said data from at least a million UK users had been among that harvested by Cambridge Analytica and used for political purposes. Confirming the agreement, the ICO said that in agreeing to pay the fine, Facebook had not made an admission of liability. The decision to pay the fine will, however, shield Facebook from what could have been a much bigger penalty under the EU's General Data Protection Regulation.
Financial Times  The Guardian  Daily Mail

Reputational risk

Muilenburg slammed over Boeing’s response to 737 failures
Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg has been attacked by US senators over the two fatal crashes of its 737 Max jets. During a Capitol Hill hearing on aviation safety and the future of the company’s 737 Max airliner, lawmakers accused Muilenburg of turning the 737s into “flying coffins” after it was suggested Boeing concealed information about the aircraft’s defective flight control system. Senator Ted Cruz said it was an indictment of the company’s culture if Muilenburg’s claim that he had not been informed of emails outlining problems with MCAS was true. Mr Cruz said: "How in the hell did no one at Boeing bring this to your attention? How did your team not put this document in front of you, run in with their hair on fire and say, ‘We’ve got a real problem here.’ How did that not happen and what does it say about the culture at Boeing?”
The Daily Telegraph


Using AI to shift advertising away from clickbait
Ben Murphy, UK managing director of advertising group Quantcast, looked at the emergence of artificial intelligence and machine-learning in the digital advertising sphere. Such tools have the potential to radically change the face of marketing forever, he wrote, moving the sector away from “quick guaranteed clickbait” content, giving companies the ability “to act on real-time audience insights and pursue goals at a scale that humans can’t match, but help guide”.
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