How Important is Social Media in PR? Ask us Live Today on Lotame Radio at 11:30 ET

UPDATE:

In a timely twist of fate, ZDNet’s Jennifer Leggio wrote a blog post today titled, “Research report: Is ’social PR’ for real? Which agencies get it?” The purpose as stated was to “determine which PR firms are best attuned to social media and are developing the most beneficial social programs for their clients” and to “get an answer to the question, “Is social media even what clients want?”

In it, Jennifer unveils some interesting takeaways for both PR agencies – how they can improve overall – and for clients. She also talks about some fundamental – but not all new – issues with the PR agency/client relationship, such as these commonly-heard concerns:

  • Only 38 percent of respondents feel they’re getting quality of coverage promised during new business pitches
  • Only 32 percent of clients consistently feel as if their agencies understand their core business objectives

And these newer concerns:

  • A lot of PR agencies want to plug themselves into the social networking channel because it is the hot thing right now but PR is floundering
  • Many high tech PR firms claim to “get” social media, but then turn around and push tactics as strategies in a one-size fits all way

More than 40 percent of respondents claimed that they are considering switching agencies. The top three reasons for wanting a new agency include:

  • Agency does not understand the business / not getting coverage in the right outlets
  • Agency does not have a blog or demonstrate good use of social networking tools
  • Agency does not appropriately demonstrate the ROI of the program

We were of course ecstatic to read that out of all the PR agencies out there, PerkettPR was named as a “Top Considered Agency”one of only six agencies consistently named as a viable consideration for clients considering an agency switch. For all of you who named us – here’s my direct line: 781.834.5852 – we look forward to hearing from you!

Read the full report here for all the details. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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ORIGINAL POST:

At PerkettPR we pride ourselves on staying ahead of the curve and moving quickly. We try to recognize the shifts in our industry before our competitors, and quite often we are successful at embracing the shifts long before our competitors do – perhaps we are more flexible and nimble due to our size and therefore faster to adapt.

We’ve certainly seen this when it comes to social media. While bigger agencies are adopting social media and have begun to execute some interesting campaigns, many PR agencies fail to showcase any sort of social media presence of their own. Making a few videos for clients isn’t exactly a complete social media strategy. It’s just one component.

Cece Salomon-Lee of PR Meets Marketing decided to do her own analysis of which PR firms have a social media presence. Unfortunately, her list only covers those agencies listed on O’Dwyer’s list of Top 100 Independent PR firms. It’s unfortunate for us because we don’t share revenues and therefore cannot be included on that list. But dare I say our own social media presence tops everyone on it? It may be presumptuous – but take just one example – our corporate Twitter account has more followers than the top 20 companies combined and just about the top 100 as well.

Does a Twitter account make us social media wizards? No – it’s only one part of our social media presence – but it’s been a huge part. Twitter has opened so many opportunities for us and consequently our clients, and has led to a great deal of thought leadership opportunities. And, having been on Twitter for about two years now, we have learned many valuable lessons that other agencies are just beginning to read about. In addition, every PerkettPR team member is required to be part of the conversations happening in social mediums and each is consistently well trained on best practices across all these mediums, to ensure we put our best foot forward – for our firm and our clients – on all fronts.

Shouldn’t PR agencies be initiating more personal engagement to teach their clients how to do so? Or is it not important? What do you think? We don’t buy the whole “cobbler’s shoes” theory and how PR doesn’t have time to do PR for themselves. In one of Cece’s reader comments they mention that you should look at their client work and not their own. Is this enough for you if the agency doesn’t have a social media presence themselves? I guess in some cases this may be true, but when it comes to social media, you can’t really pull that off – if you’re not engaged and navigating these waters every day for yourself, how can you be successfully doing so for your clients?

We’d like to hear your opinions – is social media important to PR? Do big brands not yet recognize the value of social media and therefore the large PR agencies handling that work also have yet to care? Should PR firms be engaging as their own brand or just on behalf of clients? Does it matter?

Heather Mosley and I will be talking about this and more today on our client Lotame’s live radio show today at 11:30am EST http://ow.ly/jDX . Come listen, ask questions and test our knowledge. We’d love to hear your thoughts on social media and PR.

13 thoughts on “How Important is Social Media in PR? Ask us Live Today on Lotame Radio at 11:30 ET

  1. I am a big believer that agencies of all sorts need to practice what they preach and be thought leaders in their arena. I have tremendous respect for PerkettPR because of how I’ve seen you lead the way on Twitter and other forums. In fact, this fascination I had with your company started by seeing you advertise a job posting on HireMyMom.com. That told me right away that this was a progressive agency.

    As someone that is often in a position to hire PR firms, your presence on Twitter is definitely something that would sway my opinion. I’ve been told that some agencies spend a lot of time building their own brand but that doesn’t translate into PR for their clients. However, because you have earned my trust and respect, I am happy to learn more about your clients. Never would have heard of GiftGirl without following you on Twitter! I am much more open to learning about what your clients are doing then I would be from getting promotion-only messages/updates from PR people that aren’t fully engaged in their community.

    And, yes, as a marketing consultant I do know how hard it is to balance billable time with time spent engaged in social media. Sometimes we can’t do it all. I choose not to have my own blog but I do maintain an active presence on Twitter and elsewhere and spend time building relationships through those mediums. Sometimes you have to pick and choose but not getting involved is not the answer.

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  3. I think social media is important as it relates to PR. Many more individuals are turning to social sites and it’s a great opportunity to take advantage of these channels as a PR firm to help educate your clients on the benefits.

    -Timothy

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  5. Social Media will eventually fall under the tent of PR. To many similarities between the two exist, also great PR people can make great SM people. You just have to soft sell more and do less outbound marketing.

    I’m a firm advocate of agencies being a great introduction/consulting influence in social media. But unless you have a dedicated brand manager devoted to developing a clients SM accounts…it is tricky to sock puppet for a client. It can be seen as disingenuous and risky for an agency to assume the role of a company on SM.

    Transparency is a huge issue right now in SM. I think the best PR is being honest, and forthright with your situation. People respect that and will respect you for it. Granted if your client does something especially heinous then damage control is in order. But always shoot for transparency. Cool talk w/ Lotame I definitely enjoyed it.

    ~Stu

  6. Tamara – thank you so much for the nice compliments in your comment. I think PR agencies have to recognize that social media is necessary and build it into billable time in some fashion. We have folks who are responsible for our own marketing and PR – I can’t imagine any of these big agencies don’t also have that. They should include social media presence as part of their own PR, IMHO.

    Timothy – thanks for reading again. I appreciate your insights and comments. Here’s the question at heart – do PR agencies need a corporate presence on social communities, like Twitter, or just as individual employees? I think there’s a significant difference when you factor in personal messaging.

    Any thoughts on that?

    Thanks again,
    Christine

  7. For me and my company, social media is PR. It’s how I get the word about the good things we are doing.

    But I think that PR agencies can step in and make the appropriate recommendations so that companies do not end up wasting time or energy or become part of a social media faux pas.

  8. The role of a PR agency is to interact with the public and with the media on behalf of its clients. Interaction is not a one-way or even a two-way correspondence, but rather involves multidimensional relationships in a broader, more inclusive and collaborative forum. Social media has emerged as a popular means through which to foster these relationships.

    I am not surprised at all to see the people of PerkettPR acclaimed in the “Top Considered Agency” category because of their dedication to each client’s strategy. Often, that calls for incorporation of social media. Furthermore, PerkettPR measures success in an individualized and authentic manner, rather than simply counting hits and impressions. PerkettPR’s focus on each client individually, coupled with a willingness to embrace social media in a manner that is relevant to clients will continue to contribute to PerkettPR’s success as a standout agency.

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  10. If I’m a client, vendor, partner, or prospective client, vendor, or partner of a PR agency, then my relationship would either be with the agency or an agent.

    Depending on where my relationship lies depends which entity – agency or agent – should be my contact.

    In that vein, Christine, there is no blanket answer for whether an agency or an agent should have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, or any other networking system.

    How’s that?

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  12. Hi Christine,

    Thanks for mentioning my post as I engaged in the project out of curiousity. Due to the tremnendous response, I have now set up a PB wiki (prfirmssocialmedia.pbwiki.com) to expand the list beyond the original firms. The list is now alphabetical.

    I then plan to update my original post on a weekly basis. If you prefer, I am more than happy to update the wiki and my post if want to send me an email with all the info that you would like uncluded. Otherwise, please feel free to update the wiki directly.

    And sorry I missed your show. Little bit early for me =) And congratulations on being named one of the top firms!

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