Why Can’t PR Do Digital?

June 2nd, 2009

Why aren’t PR firms offering digital marketing services to their clients?

On Sunday, David Anderson from Off Madison Ave and I presented this roundtable at the PRSA Counselor’s Academy conference in Palm Desert.

The title is: Revenue.com: Launching Digital Marketing Services to Grow Retainers. Note we only had ~30 minutes, so this isn’t as comprehensive as I’d prefer.

There are 5 Advantages of Digital Services

  • Marketing dollars are moving to the Web (Internet is already 3rd largest advertising vehicle, behind only newspapers and TV)
  • Brands are embracing social media. 63% of global best-in-class companies will increase social media spending in 2009.
  • Most digital services are ongoing, retainer-based programs.
  • Digital services are inherently measurable, making it easier to prove PR firm value.
  • Digital is ever-changing. There’s always a new wrinkle – always something new to sell.

3 Must-Do Digital Services for PR Firms

  • Search engine optimization. Fundamentally linked to modern public relations (or should be).
  • Social media. Listening programs. Engagement and messaging counsel. Social media crisis management.
  • Digital content creation. Blogs. Facebook pages. Podcasts. Videos. eBooks. Helping clients atomize content effectively (see this post from Todd Defren for more info).

6 Steps to Mastering Digital Services at PR Firms

  • Matrix client opportunities. Is the client engaged in SEO, social media, etc. already? In-house? With another agency?
  • Index staff competency. Probably, your existing staff aren’t SEO or social media “experts.” But, are there team members with interest + aptitude? Put your aces in their places.
  • Assign vertical expertise. Don’t try to make an all-knowing digital superstar in your agency. It’s high risk, and it doesn’t scale. Divide expertise throughout the team. 1-2 people per discipline.
  • Train. Find someone reputable to provide serious social media training, SEO training, digital content training.
  • Practice on yourself. Eat your own dog food. Get good at SEO, social media, and digital content on behalf of your own agency.
  • Sell to clients through education. It’s easier to sell digital services in a seminar, rather than a “pitch.” Start scheduling regular education sessions for your clients, and they’ll end up “pitching” themselves.

What did we miss?

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