“It’s a great time,” said Steven Rubenstein, president of Rubenstein Communications, the PR powerhouse founded by industry deity Howard Rubenstein, his father. “The pathways to tell a story have grown exponentially. And it’s become more complicated to maintain a good reputation. All this has made our industry much stronger.”
PR has also emerged at the top of the marketing scrum as brands scramble to unite messages across an insane tangle of channels, pathways and niches. “I’ve been doing this more than 20 years, and there’s a significantly greater influence of PR in the marketing mix versus the role of, say, advertising 20 years ago,” said Sean Cassidy, CEO of indie powerhouse DKC.
...Across the board, much of the boom has been fueled by social media. With an insane proliferation of channels to fill, agencies have transcended their old roles as message bearers to become content creators. What used to quaintly be known as story placements is now called “earned media,” which can include anything from manufactured tweets to “curated” Instagram posts to agency-produced YouTube videos—and usually all of the above.
...Then there’s “paid media,” once the realm of advertising. PR agencies are jumping in the game with gusto, using storytelling chops to actually create the kinds of segments and stories they once pitched. On platforms like YouTube and Vimeo, consumers don’t seem to know, or care, what’s manufactured information and what’s not.Consider how much social media--Twitter, Facebook, and endless re-tweets/comments--have fueled the Barclays Center.
Or BCTV, their in-house tv channel. Or the fact that the Nets and Barclays Center recently hired New York Post sportswriter Lenn Robbins to write for their websites. (He has "complete independence" in his coverage, but how often do you think he'll mention those $25 cheap seats?)
And consider how, in the top 50 PR firms, the two mentioned in the above article excerpt are ranked near the top.
From The Power 50 List
Founded by Dan Klores in 1991, the agency became DKC when its namesake went Hollywood, emerging from the muck as a director and producer of startling depth and sensitivity. The company has since earned props as one of the smartest firms in the business, led by one of its most dynamic champions, Sean Cassidy. One of the top 10 independent PR firms in the U.S., with five offices nationally, DKC grew 40% over three years through 2012, according to Mr. Cassidy. The agency actually moves the needle for clients; it’s changed health policy with the Children’s Health Fund, elevated Delta’s middling customer satisfaction ratings and launched a sports platform with Citi that included sponsorship of the New York Mets’ new home, Citi Field. “We’ve also folded in new verticals like event production and government relations,” Mr. Cassidy said. “Clients like to be able to come to one place instead of five.”Forest City Ratner goes unmentioned, but surely DKC deserves credit for (some of) the successful Barclays Center communications strategy.
After all, DKC goes the extra mile, staying on message to the point of blaming lawsuits for Atlantic Yards delays even while the CEO of parent Forest City Enterprises puts the recession first.
One of the first major PR houses in New York, the firm’s access and influence remain undiminished after 50 years. “Rubenstein” is to New York PR what Google is to search. It’s rumored that a phone call from Howard—who’s still involved in the business, which is now run by his son, Steven—can change the course of coverage. Almost 200 employees work from the company’s single office, in New York. A global roster of more than 450 clients reads like a who’s who of New York institutions...The article mentions the Yankees, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, Columbia University, and more, but not Forest City, for which Rubenstein has done occasional damage control.
Remember when executive Jim Stuckey abruptly departed in 2007, citing "personal reasons and a desire to pursue new challenges." Rubenstein was there to manage that transition. Actually, it was a cover for sexual harassment allegations roiling the office.