The Future of PR – How PR Firms Can Get on the Ball!

The question of what the future holds for PR agencies has been debated for some time.  During my career on the corporate side of things and managing global agencies across Asia Pacific, EMEA and the US for the last 8 years of my life, I’ve learned a lot, especially when it comes to what the PR firms should do to remain relevant in this market. PR firms must learn to evolve, be ahead of the emerging trends and technologies and apply all of those areas to deliver value to the client.  

 

With the introduction of social media, corporate blogging, and online communities, channels of conversation and information distribution are much broader today beyond the scope of just press releases and targeted media pitches.  Upon noticing the change in the landscape, I looked to my PR firms for expertise in these areas.  Why? Because I believe that PR agencies can be very effective in helping us (the client) be successful in terms of coverage, thought leadership, brand and innovation.  Speaking from personal experience, working with a PR firm that is not innovative and lacks broad knowledge in these areas can be very frustrating. I know. I’ve been there.  Agencies that are slow to adopt the emerging trends can become “irrelevant” very quickly.  I always say the agency should know more about these cutting edge tools that are being introduced to the corporate arena more so than the client so they’re not playing catchup.

 

When social media started gaining ground, I asked my PR firm how we can better utilize these tools to help elevate our profile within the online community and drive the conversation. When they couldn’t come up with a good answer and struggled to get us the right feedback, I started to think… “hmm, maybe this isn’t the right agency for us.”

 

What agencies need to understand is PR is no longer a siloed function but an integral part within the organization. Looking at PR as a way to get coverage is just one part. Finding ways to gain coverage by integrating key components such as corporate blog, social media tools such as YouTube, Twitter, SlideShare, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. will get more mileage than simply applying the art of media outreach to your targeted audience.

 

For example, at Lumension, we set up a new corporate blog called the Optimal Security Blog, launched our YouTube Channel, and Twitter. We leveraged our PR firm Lois Paul and Partners to develop and execute on our strategy. 

Needless to say, LPP was the winning agency that essentially won over our account.  They got it. They knew the change was coming and they understood what the best practices were for launching these to drive success.  It’s not about simply understanding the importance of these emerging tools, it’s about knowing how to best utilize these tools and apply them effectively.  It’s about sifting through all the noise and finding the right tools that can really work for the client. PR must be an integral part of the marketing function – leveraging PR for all aspects of marketing can get you very far. Ask how you can have monthly calls with your client’s key marketing folks to understand campaigns they are running, whitepapers they’re writing, bylined articles, etc. This way, you have visibility into what the company is working on for lead gen, thought leadership, etc. and tie that into your PR planning.  Also, have regular brainstorming sessions with your key spokespeople and get into their brains. Who knows…you’ll get some great blog topics or thought leadership ideas out of it.  

 

Proactive PR – don’t be reactive when clients come to you for advice on social media, online communities, etc. Assess your firm’s talent and find experts within these areas to always be on the cutting edge of these evolving trends and technologies and how this impacts the clients.

 

Monthly Social Media Share of Voice Checkup – Do a monthly checkpoint on all the social media tools to see how the client’s SOV is resonating such as Twitter mentions, blogline mentions, Google Search, etc.

 

Checkpoint – do quarterly planning on the latest and greatest social media tools that can help impact PR and marketing and assess if the current strategy is working through measurement of coverage and Share of Voice. Get a better understanding of how the integration of these tools are impacting marketing’s lead gen, website traffic, etc.

 

Education – The agency should push the “client” to look at the latest and greatest social media tools and find ways to integrate across their efforts.

 

Levearge your resources – find out from your contact who would be best for specific brainstorming sessions and hold them regularly and share your feedback on what you’re hearing in the market – they can most likely help dispel or confirm trends, etc. And, hold regular meetings with your client’s key marketing folks. You could learn a lot. this is most effective if you don’t have an in-house PR/comms person who doesn’t provide that.

 

Tell me what you think and if you agree.

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Comments

  1. Hi Cindy,

    I completely agree with you. Many firms have grown complacent and fail to grasp the big picture. The future is in social media.

    This became very apparent to me as my kids became teens. Their lives revolve around social media. These “kids” have and will become leaders of industry and any PR firm or company that fails to embrace this now and keep up with current trends will continue to play catch up or completely fall behind.

    Great blog! Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks for your comments. I’m glad to see more people are understanding the importance of PR but how critical it is to integrate PR across your various business units. The role of PR is fundamentally changing and unless PR firms begin to grasp this and apply to their business model, I’m afraid they’re headed to nowhere. Thanks again for reading.

  2. You make excellent points. I’ll be following your blog. Great work Cindy!

    • Thank you for your kind words. Really appreciate it. Went to your site and it is a beautiful site. I’ll be checking back once it’s updated. Are you on Twitter? My twitter ID is CindyKimPR.

  3. I whole heartedly agree with all you have written, and would add that when incorporating social media communication into the Marcomms strategy the organisation needs to get involved from the CEO to tech support. Much in the way that if IT is implemented to effect change management without the buy in form the business units and the executive team, social media interactions must follow through the culture of the organisation. There is always innate talent in an organisation which social media has the power to free and give voice to. It is even more important in social media interaction for all communication to be consistent, honest, and get odour message across, to do this there must be fundamental buy in from the top down. Every employee can potentially become an ambassador for your organisation, so an internal comms campaign is essential to support their efforts.

  4. I couldn’t agree more, Kim. Harnessing the power of social media as part of an overall corporate communications strategy is unbelievably powerful. The tracking functionality that can also be incorporated from Web analytics adds a new set of metrics to further validate the channel as solid performer. Twitter has been the most powerful for me, but I am starting to engage more on Facebook. Papa John’s is the undisputed king at building a loyal customer base on FB.

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  1. […] How to approach Social Media PR By eskenzi I came across a very interesting blog recently by Cindy Kim on “The Future of PR – How PR Firms Can Get on the Ball!”  […]

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