If your current public relations (PR) firm is not adapting well to the online/digital age, it may be time to move on. Any PR firm worth its salt will do all it can to embrace the Internet and related digital technologies in order to boost your company, product, or service awareness. Whether you’re embarking on a political campaign or you’re looking to get your new small business noticed, there are certain characteristics you should look for in a PR firm. Media and Internet savvy skills are one of the most important.
What Does a PR Firm Do?
First off, what can your PR firm do for you? Overall, public relations involves “selling” your company, idea, service or cause to the people. This isn’t done via strategically placed catchwords and designs on TV, billboards, or magazine ads — that’s what ad agencies are for. Rather, the job of PR agencies is to promote companies or individuals through editorial coverage, also known as earned or free media, with a focus on various mediums such as website, TV and magazines.
This is different than the paid media or advertisements that are the mainstay of advertising agents. All PR firms aim to make their clients seem as honest, relevant, exciting, and successful as they can. How each firm goes about this usually varies.
Do They Focus on the Digital Age?
In many ways, the onset of the digital age has helped the efforts of PR firms. It’s much easier these days to be noticed. However, is your PR firm up with the times, taking advantage of all the social media, Internet and mobile/text opportunities out there to the fullest?
Your PR firm should be well-versed in social media, with a history of promoting clients extensively on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. This can be achieved through interactive promotions, contests and the sharing of stories, all designed to pull in more potential customers or supporters and get them excited about what you have to offer. Some PR firms, amazingly, are still stuck on serving the more traditional media outlets. As a result, this could be detrimental to the health of your business, campaign, cause, or service.
What Makes a Good PR Firm These Days?
Historically, a PR agency has been responsible for writing and sending out press releases, writing speeches, executing public outreach events, conducting relevant market research, and employing crisis management strategies. Those are all excellent and still-important parts of any PR firm today. However, the last decade has brought about the need for an extra step into the online world, connecting people with a common goal in ways that have never been explored before. People don’t have time to read a long story in their local newspaper about a candidate. They may even gloss over press releases posted on a company’s website. Instead, what they do want are small snippets of digestible information that they can get from sites like Twitter and Facebook, which supply just a few words or a quick paragraph highlighting a worthy person, cause, or service they believe in.
This is why PR firms of today need to expand the awareness and message of a product or person through networking sites like LinkedIn, online blogs for internal or external sites, and contests on Facebook that people can “like” to receive some sort of feedback or reward. This leads to a quick back-and-forth feel between you and your audience that provides instant feedback in order to boost your brand.