Actually, Pay Attention To That (Wo)man Behind the Curtain

Last week Hubspot – via Twitter Grader – highlighted the The 100 Most Powerful Women On Twitter which included a lot of influential and interesting women I expected to see there, such as Ann Handley, Jennifer Leggio, Beth Kanter, and Charlene Li, and a few surprises that I wouldn’t have readily thought of, but are very interesting to follow nonetheless. Happily, we also noted that our CEO, Christine Perkett@missusp was also included within the Top 25 women on this list – of course, we’re not surprised because we know how hard she works to keep on top of the industry, as the PR and social media landscape constantly changes. But we are very proud and impressed nonetheless. (Is this a good time to ask for a raise?)

After the initial hoopla on Twitter about the list and congratulating the women we know personally, Christine asked on Twitter, “so what does it all mean.” I’ve thought about this before when lists like this come out – do they really mean anything, and if so, what? Does the general public really care who is influential on Twitter? Are these people really influential or do they merely appear to be, to those of us who are really ingrained in social media?

After thinking about it for awhile, I’ve come up with what this particular list it means to me – I would love to hear your thoughts on what it means to you or to the rest of the world.

  1. PR professionals – from “flaks” to influencers – when I started in PR, those in my profession were completely behind the scenes – like the Wizard of Oz sitting behind the curtain pulling the strings. We are in the business of making our clients stars, so naturally, we don’t make the story about us, nor should we. However, along the way, we learn a lot – about our clients, their business, the market and how it changes. We have to learn about new technologies, trends, products, and publications, giving us more than a layman’s knowledge of many different industries. The rise of social media, however, has given us a voice and has allowed us to highlight our expertise and the value we can offer to others without being overly promotional. Certainly, our clients are still the stars – we still devote 95% of our time to them, but a handful of smart PR folks are now also seen as experts who have influence in the industry. And you know what – our public influence is being asked about more and more by prospects, and evaluated by clients – if we are selling the ability to influence audiences and teach our clients how to become more influential in their industries, it makes sense that we should be have our own strong industry credibility.
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  3. Journalists and PR professionals can play nicely together – Take a look at those on this list and the other “Twitter influencer” lists that are posted regularly. They now contain reporters, bloggers and PR professionals (among others) – and because of their involvement in social media, a lot of them know and respect each other more than ever. For every blog post that fuels the journalists vs. PR “flacks” debate, there are hundreds of social media interactions every day between the media and PR that help bridge the gap and help the two get to know each other better and more personally. When you can see each other as people/friends and not the enemy, it is easier for everyone to do their job. Watching Christine joke with several of the other “top influencer” bloggers and journalists on Twitter after this list came out really drove this home for me.
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  5. PR professionals are trail blazers – at least in the tech industry. Many years ago, Christine told our staff that we needed to “figure out what these blogs are all about” then a few years later that we needed to start figuring out what social networking was all about – Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Whrrl, etc. – so that we could evaluate how it should be used in our business and for our clients – and if it should be. Christine always takes the reins for our company to ensure we try out and experiment with new technologies for ourselves before we try them for clients. Often people think that it’s only the “techies or the journalists” that are first adopters of technology, but many smart PR companies are the first to appear on new social sites and are among the first with the new gadget or toy because we pay attention and have close relationships with those influencers shaping the market. If we’re doing our job right, we realize value and ROI before the public does – thanks to being privy to many start ups and innovative new advances by existing companies, working early with the reporters and influencers who evaluate them and their products, and paying attention to where the tech industry is headed. Also, because we’re responsible for counseling our clients on how what works, what doesn’t and where they should pay attention. In fact, we’re often involved in product direction and development discussions because we have a pulse on where the industry is headed.

Our discussion about this list on Twitter prompted Hubspot to offer to sponsor a meetup for the top 100 women on this list – PerkettPR is considering organizing this event, but we want it to be more than a Tweet-up – we would like it to offer value to attendees and to maybe even benefit a charity. Would you attend an event that offered insight from the Top 100 women influencers on Twitter? If so, what would you like to get out of it? Tell us here and help us create a fantastic event!

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.