What PR Agencies Must Do to Adjust to the Technology Convergence

Today, 82 percent of B2C companies are using social media to track and/or follow up with customers as opposed to 54 percent of B2B companies. Though it’s natural to expect these numbers to be a bit higher compared to the individual rate of social media adoption, these numbers tell us two things. One, B2B companies really didn’t ignore social networking as much as the PR industry may have initially believed. Two, there’s still room for the industry to readjust their capabilities to help clients make the most of social media, the consumer data it can yield and the unconventional paid media schemes Peter Himler talked about in his Forbes article, “PR Agencies’ Lost Year?”.

But before this can happen, PR agencies must move away from such a heavy focus on media placements and broaden their strategic horizons beyond traditional media to influence public perception.

“Social Media requires a PR person to think less about an intermediary—such as a journalist or blogger—and more about the end user, which results in catering for a broad spectrum of needs,” Pete Goold, managing director at Punch Communications, told London-based media and marketing magazine The Drum. “Rather than targeting a single individual with an idea, PRs that manage social media now need to think about the response of a broad demographic—which arguably forces the thinking to be more robust than ever before.”

“It used to be B2B and B2C but now it’s B2P, with P being people,” said Nigel Ferrier director of Optimise PR. “Social media cuts across channels and is all about engaging with individuals, holding conversations not relying on press releases and launches.”

A challenge in moving away from pushing messages to a journalist to initiating and sustaining conversations with the consumer will be the demands of the agency’s current client base. Early in his article, Himler points out that “big global firms certainly have invested in departments focused on brand-building and consumer engagement via the primary social channels (mostly prodded by their forward-thinking, marketing and measurement-driven clients at {consumer packaged goods} companies).” But in the next few paragraphs, he explains that the PR industry may be unable to alter their view of client success when “many clients still define PR success by an appearance on NBC Today, a feature in the Wall Street Journal, a hit in TechCrunch, or a photo layout in People magazine.”

As some clients continue to hold on to one-dimensional perceptions of PR success, while others push for a wider view of consumer data and engagement, does an agency move toward providing higher-level digital solutions or do they continue to give clients the placements they so desperately seek? Perhaps the answer lies in simultaneous change. PR agencies should embrace the pressure from more forward-thinking clients to diversify agency digital offerings. At the same time, the PR agency should educate current and future clients with a deeper dive into the wealth of data and carefully crafted results social media tools can yield.

This blog post is an excerpt from aiellejai’s newest white paper, Blindsided! Why the rapid pace of social media communication and measurement is leaving PR agencies behind.” Angie Jennings Sanders is the chief content architect at aiellejai, a boutique content creation consultancy specializing in marketing communications project management, social media engagement, writing instruction/tutoring and book writing/publishing strategy. Follow her on Twitter at @pronouncedALJ.

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4 thoughts on “What PR Agencies Must Do to Adjust to the Technology Convergence

  1. Pingback: The Best Technology PR Agency Based In Los Angeles, CA | losangelespragencyblog

  2. Pingback: How to get heard among your people? | losangelespragencyblog

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