Managing Change Creates Opportunities for Ad Agency PR

As organizations scramble to adapt to change, their use of public relations as a vehicle to manage the constantly evolving landscape will only grow.

The challenge of managing change and remaining relevant is highlighted in a new IBM study of more than 1,700 chief marketing officers.

•       According to the executive summary, “One of the most surprising findings to emerge from our study is the degree of consensus among the respondents. No matter where they work, their industry, or how large or successful their organizations are, CMOs are facing many of the same challenges and most feel underprepared to manage them.”

The number one area in which CMOs report not being prepared (76%) is the explosion of data.

•       “CMOs are . . . overwhelmingly underprepared to take charge of the growing volume, velocity and variety of data,” the executive summary notes.

PR can help CMOs mine data to unlock perceptions, preferences and concerns, but understanding customers, stakeholders or citizens is not enough.

An organization has to take action based on what it learns—and do so more quickly than its competitors. That’s where PR can play an especially helpful role.

“PR firms in general are quite adept at leveraging change, especially those who have shifted their models and strategies in recognition of the importance of digital, online, social, and mobile communications,” writes Jim Weiss, CEO of WCG, in PRWEEK.

He continues: “We are increasingly seeing the role of communications, and PR pros within companies and organizations, taking on a broader remit than ever before because communications are happening online in real-time where multiple stakeholders are seeing them all at once . . . Responsiveness and transparency with relative speed and immediacy have always been qualities the best PR professionals possess.”

Whether connecting with a reporter on deadline, responding to an irate customer using social media to vent his or her displeasure, or dealing with an actual or impending crisis, reacting quickly (yet responsibly with facts in hand) has long been a forte of the PR profession.

In the age of digital media, smaller ad agencies not only can compete against much larger competitors, but often times do so more nimbly and effectively. Those who are prepared to lead this critical PR function will ensure they remain relevant to the companies or clients they serve.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to advertising agencies and businesses.

Media Survey Provides Insights for Ad Agencies

Journalists are broadening the ways they interact with PR professionals and other sources, and much of this interaction is coming through social media, according to the PRWeek/PR Newswire 2010 Media Survey.

The survey was conducted online, with 1,568 traditional and non-traditional media representatives and 1,670 PR practitioners completing it.

I found it particular interesting, though not surprisingly, that it is becoming more common for journalists to establish relationships with sources online.

The more traditional ways of pitching, while not dead, are certainly declining, and ad agencies need to adapt to new methods of reaching influential reporters.

Other noteworthy findings pertaining to social media include:

• 43% of journalists have been pitched through social networks, compared to 31% in 2009.

• 62% of PR professionals follow individual journalists and media outlets via social networks.

• 59% of traditional journalists are the author of a blog, whether personal or professional, and 31% are writing a blog for their traditional outlet, an increase from 28% in 2009.

• 44% of PR pros are choosing to circumvent traditional journalists for certain stories — 17% of respondents are pitching to traditional media outlets with less frequency; 66% are targeting bloggers more than before; and 45% are going directly to consumers more often.

• Journalists are also using blogs in their research, with 45% saying they’ve quoted a blog in an article. However, when researching a specific company, 90% of journalists are still acquiring information through the company’s Web site; 24% are using general blogs, and 23% are going to the company’s blog to get information on that specific business.

• While 34% of journalists say they use company blogs for general story research, 51% report they do not find company blogs useful, “pointing to a possible disconnect in how businesses are presenting information.”

• 43% of PR practitioners report using social networks to pitch the media, with 76% using Twitter and 49% using Facebook.

• 61% of journalists that have been pitched via social network have received pitches via Facebook, while 44% have received Twitter pitches. (Only 18% of journalists were getting Twitter pitches a year ago.)

• 84% of journalists consider e-mail the best way to receive story pitches; only 4% report the phone to be the best way to do so.

• 57% of journalists anticipate a decline in print circulation with an increased focus on the Web.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.