Ad Agencies: Is Traditional Media on the Way Out as a PR Tool?

A major shift is underway in the public relations/public affairs world when it comes to the use of social media, according to a new survey by PR/PA agency mergers & acquisitions consultants StevensGouldPincus.

In a news release the consulting group said that the use of social media for public relations/public affairs purposes by U.S. communications consulting firms has increased 12-15% this past year.

While the percentage of work currently devoted to social media by these firms is 30% overall, that percentage will increase to an average of 42% new year.  For firms with revenue in excess of $3 million, the increase will be even higher, at 46%.

“If this trend persists, within the next two years social media will replace traditional media as PR/PA’s primary tool for reaching client audiences with news and information,” said SGP Managing Partner Art Stevens.

“When you consider that traditional media have been the bedrock of professional PR/PA practice for more than 100 years, the implications are profound.”

Media relations has the highest use of social media, averaging 36%, followed by product marketing (25%) and issues advocacy (20%).

While the amount of time devoted to social media varies each month, Facebook gets the most attention (31%), followed by Twitter (29%), LinkedIn (18%), MySpace (17%) and YouTube (14%).

The survey indicated the most important issue to public relations and public affairs firms is the ability to track and measure results, and quantify value.

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

PR a Hidden Opportunity for Ad Agencies

PR Newswire’s April edition of The Insider has an interesting article called “Discover the Hidden Opportunities in an Economic Downturn” by Sarah Skerik, vice president of distribution services for PR Newswire:,20182,0&S=pijohoovxw

She points out that “PR is increasingly being seen as an inexpensive and effective means of increasing brand awareness and ultimately driving sales,” adding that this also is a great time to leverage corporate social responsibility programs by promoting events, awards and community involvement.

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

Questions Ad Agencies Should Ask When Creating a PR Plan

Where you’re developing a public relations plan for your agency or a client, it helps to ask yourself some important questions. Here are questions I have found are helpful to discuss with my clients before getting started on the plan:

• What are the desired results of the public relations initiative?

• Who are our primary audiences? Secondary audiences?

• What do we know about the image these audiences already have about the organization and its products/services?

• What do we know about the news media’s perceptions of the organization and its products/services?

• What is the image we wish to convey?

• How much of this plan should be geared toward creating awareness vs. changing perceptions?

• What are our key messages?

• What are the best communication vehicles to carry these messages?

• What are the organization’s greatest strengths? Weaknesses?

• What threats/obstacles exist?

• What opportunities exist that at present are not being maximized?

• What percentage of his/her time is the CEO or other designated senior-level executive willing to devote to media relations activities?

• What landmines do we need to avoid?

• What does this plan need to take into consideration in connection with the organization’s overall marketing/branding efforts?

• How will we define success?

• How will we measure success? (In other words, at the end of a year, how will we know if we have or have not been successful?)

It takes a while to plow through and answer these questions, but the end product will be much better if you take the time to go through a disciplined process like this before getting started on a PR plan.

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