Social Media is Great, But Don’t Forget Traditional PR 3

There have been a plethora of reports on social media, eBooks and trend watches which have come out over the last couple of weeks. Some of which we’ve already covered. However, this survey research by Jennifer Leggio (AKA Mediaphyter) of ZDNet, stood out in my eyes for the new data which it supplied. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and re-reading the five pages (Couldn’t squeeze it into a 140 characters), which summarize results from the survey.

The 642 respondents, who were surveyed between November 2008 and January 2009, included top PR decision-makers at companies with 1,000 or more employees, with small business / start-up owners as secondary targeted respondents.

There were many takeaways from this research, many of which Jennifer notes, however I wanted to highlight a few key takeaways that I caught. Please take the time to read her full synopsis on the findings, if you haven’t already.

  • Traditional PR still needs to be the main focus for most clients: I recently blogged about how real PR value (PR that leads to sales / leads) is still driven by securing the right story (i.e. right message penetration to achieve corporate objectives) in one of the heavyweight print publications (i.e. Wall Street Journal, New York Times, BusinessWeek). Yes, we need to understand social media and digital media relations, but agencies can’t loose focus of how important traditional PR is in retaining clients. The results of Jennifer’s survey seem to back up this point. Clients don’t want new social elements, introduced into ongoing PR campaigns, to take away from core traditional components. For example, one respondent to the survey stated: “My agency seems to use social networks but our traditional PR is suffering. While social media is important to the company’s objectives, the base capabilities are still most important. Not surprising to hear that in the current economic period, but it was surprising to hear just how dissatisfied respondents were with their current traditional media results. According to the survey, clients seem to be most worried about not getting stories (in traditional media) that assist them in meeting their corporate objectives. 54 percent of the respondents indicated that the opportunities which their agency was securing for them didn’t hit on key messages, which support their business objectives. These numbers scream to me that clients are looking for results that can be measured against key message penetration. I wish Jennifer got a little deeper into respondents thoughts on measurement, but hopefully she’ll tackle in future surveys.

(Source: Jennifer Leggio, ZDNet)

  • Current clients want to be educated on social media: While respondents indicated that they don’t need social media to be the main focus on their PR campaigns they do want to be further educated on social media and the changing media landscape. More than 81 percent of respondents indicated that they would attend a social media training center managed by their agency, with 35 percent of those willing to pay for it as an added expense. Jennifer tries to present this as a reason to offer educational programs for free – as part of ramping-up a new business engagement. However, I think the overwhelming response really points to clients overall interest in being educated. As agencies, we really have to be better at educating and that all starts with finding the best approach to implementing these types of training sessions into core practices.

(Source: Jennifer Leggio, ZDNet)

  • The expectations set during new business pitches, are more important than ever: Only 38 percent of respondents indicated that they were getting the quality of coverage they were promised during new business pitches. Setting expectations is more than half the battle. As agencies begin to make measurement their top priority – especially during these tough economic times – we can’t loose track of what was mentioned during that first meeting. We need to be well educated (with qualitative and quantitative data) on the dialogue that is going on around prospective clients and their market, in order to successfully predict the results we aim to deliver from the onset.

(Source: Jennifer Leggio, ZDNet)

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