I was encouraged by the feature on alliances between design and PR companies (DW 4 August).
We established Gardiner Richardson just under three years ago in Newcastle as a design/ PR consultancy, our aim was to offer our clients an integrated approach to building and communicating brands through combining disciplines of design, marketing and public relations.
At times I have found it hard to convince designers, as well as traditional PR account managers, of this approach, making them think outside of their own perceived roles and consider the ‘bigger picture’ to corporate communications. There can be a paranoia that they may just end up churning out newsletters and flyers or writing brochures. It seems to be an alien notion that the two disciplines could possibly be integrated.
One of the hardest things for designers to overcome is the thought they may be associated with a PR firm. There is an element of protectiveness, that their ‘creativity’ may be compromised. Unfortunately, there are stigma’s associated with both disciplines, which is largely down to lack of understanding.
Designers can benefit greatly from working closely with people who have different skills and viewpoints. There have been numerous letters in Design Week highlighting the lack of appreciation which designers have historically had for copy and the importance it plays in all communications.
This is a specific example of where the interaction between both disciplines is beneficial to work produced by design. While all work is completed to achieve set aims as part of a team, traditional PR expertise is still vital. In such a set up as I have described, a PR professional needs to have a grasp of the intricacies of design, but not to the exclusion of experience in the usual areas of media relations, event management, crisis management and the like.
Increasingly, we are all working in digital media that by its very nature requires both disciplines. Companies need a presence on the Web but the Internet also throws up communications issues best addressed by PR.
Of course, certain clients can cherry pick the disciplines they wish to employ to achieve their market aims. Other clients approach us as consultants to assess their needs and we can provide a plan that incorporates one, or both disciplines as deemed necessary.
If the plan combines the dual disciplines, their objectives are met by a team consisting of PR and design working together to achieve a joint aim. It may well be that work starts as a largely design-based project, but their ongoing aims are met through a PR campaign.
Good communication is achieved by blending expertise, creativity, and personalities and aims are rarely met by one discipline alone.
While businesses can be forgiven for trumpeting the importance of their own specialisms, be it design, advertising or PR, there must be a greater recognition of what can be achieved through the mixing and matching of different disciplines.