Magazine article New Zealand Management

Wagging the Dog. (Bookcase)

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Wagging the Dog. (Bookcase)

Article excerpt

The Fall of Advertising & The Rise of PR By: Al Ries & Laura Ries Publisher: Harper Business Price: $67.50

As a publisher who depends on advertising revenue to fund the greater part of the distribution of the stories we tell, a book title such as this is inclined to raise little beads of sweat on an already overly furrowed brow.

Advertising has for a good many generations now sold the world's products and services and simultaneously paid for the lion's share of a vibrant free media. A free media through which not just products but also knowledge and ideas are exchanged is, in my opinion, fundamental to the existence of any marketplace economy. This business model could be seriously under threat if Mr Ries and his co-author daughter were indeed saying what I thought they might be saying. And in a country as small as New Zealand where circulation numbers alone are never going to pay the bills, I could envisage the death of many media enterprises, particularly small independents like the company behind this magazine.

And then, I wondered, if marketing budgets swing from advertising to public relations and PR becomes an even more pervasive force in the marketing mix than it already is who, after we've all gone broke, will publish PR's contrived content? Imagine, if you will, my relief when, on reading more closely, I discovered important caveats to Ries senior and junior's collective conclusions on the future of advertising.

There is a shift, from advertising-oriented marketing to public relations-oriented marketing. The book advocates the role of establishing a brand through PR and using advertising to subsequently maintain it. "For managers indoctrinated in an advertising culture, this is a revolutionary idea. For others it is a natural evolution in marketing thinking," they say.

It might be easier for some of us long-in-the-tooth traditionalists to dismiss some of the thinking behind this debunking of advertising if it weren't for the fact that Al Ries has some solid marketing and predictive credentials. For instance, with another marketing guru, Jack Trout, he signalled the arrival of the "positioning era" back in 1972. Since then he's co-authored, either with Trout or with his daughter Laura, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, Bottom-Up Marketing, Positioning The Battle for Your Mind and a few others. …

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