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PR Agencies Fail to Walk the Blog Talk

December 21, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

As a gift to the folks that happen to stop by this blog from time to time, here is a guest post by Craig Pearce , a public relations professional who runs his own PR consultancy, Craig Pearce Strategic Communication. For more from Craig visit his blog – Public Relations and Managing Reputation.

I was shocked and appalled to discover that most Australian PR agencies do not have blogs. Yet you can bet your bottom dollar that many, if not the majority, of these PR agencies are espousing their clients get on the social media bandwagon (doubtless based on a sincere belief in their clients’ best interests, but also doubtlessly to turn a buck for themselves).

So why aren’t more PR agencies actively involved in such a core social media activity – blogging?

Could it be that they:

  • believe, strategically, for the niche they operate in, it doesn’t make smart communication sense? In other words, it would not deliver ROI
  • are lazy?
  • are hypocritical?
  • believe that, when considering the competition for organic keyword searches relevant to them (e.g. PR agencies in Melbourne, public relations, PR agency and so on) they don’t have a snowdrop’s chance in hell of getting a high organic search ranking, so why bother with the social media effort?
  • feel they have nothing particularly valuable to say? This is a big call because it’s basically saying their staff aren’t as up to speed, valuable or full of insights as PR pros in other agencies
  • have a strategy of providing time and resources for employees to run their own blogs…(cue sceptical, wry look…)?
  • have a view that the lack of good agency blogs means less competition in the space which, in turn, reduces the necessity of having a blog?
  • think it’s best to focus their social media marketing on Facebook or Twitter, or maybe they believe a monologic approach through prioritising their own websites is the most effective way to market themselves?

Naming and shaming PR agencies in Australia: When I started writing this post and looking around for Oz PR agency blogs, I intended to name and shame, listing the good ones and not so good ones and non-existent ones. But, due to the dearth of agencies with decent (or any!) blogs it would not be commercially prudent of me to do so.

Suffice to say I had a look at about 20 different agencies’ online presence. These included BIG agencies and agencies that aggressively spruik their social media capabilities. Now this is not a scientific study by any means, and there are sure to be PR agency blogs out there that are great and I missed them, but it’s pretty obvious there is something seriously awry here.

Sure, a number of them have employees like Matthew Gain, Daniel Young and Craig Badings who blog excellently on their own personal sites, but this is still a pretty lame effort. It is an effort that is even lamer when you look at some agency blogs which are pure self-promotion.

Or am I right off-beam here? Is there something I am missing?

Top Australian PR agency blogs: A few of the only agency blogs I can recommend are those of Edelman, Catriona Pollard Communication and Weber Shandwick. They are all a bit self-focused and do not consistently exemplify the generally accepted principles of best practice social media, but they’re still light years ahead of most of their competition! The collection of blogs on the Weber Shandwick site are the pick of these three, but you should note that only a small percentage of the content is Australian and even that is infrequently updated.

The best of the Aussie agency of the lot, though, is Dennis Rutzou Public Relations. There is some really thoughtful material here. I am a big fan of the way the agency gets a number of its staff involved in blogging. What a great way to recognise their intelligence and value! As well as, of course, leverage their insights and knowledge and give them writing practice. Everyone at DRPR wins, as do their clients and potential clients and their PR industry peers.

Stellar Concepts have some funny, interesting posts too – I just wish they’d post more often! (Which is me saying I recommend their content, rather than having a dig.)

The rationale for having a blog: Google is generally the number one way people find out about products and services and, most probably, check the credibility of claims. Partly because of their intimate awareness of this fact, I thought PR agencies would be rife with blogs.

According to one report from earlier this year, 86% of B2B firms are using social media (probably a US-centric stat). You’d think some of those firms would include a blog in their strategy. I don’t think this is the emperor’s new clothes; I think its social proof.

A blog is where you can consistently exhibit thought leadership, a dimension that provides differentiation.

A key element of strategic PR/social media is to add value to stakeholders/target audiences’ lives. It isn’t about sell sell sell. It’s about taking leadership positions, adding value and sharing resources, building up credibility and loyalty.

The thinking behind this is that people are tired of the monologic, hammer-over-the-head approach to marketing. It seems ironic that many PR agencies take this approach when, through their social media espousing, they are preaching the opposite (i.e. dialogic as manifested by social media) to their clients.

  1. matthewgain
    December 30, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Thanks again for the inclusion Craig. Two shout outs for the price of one with this post!

    I have added your blog to my RSS feed Paul.

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