PRCA Event: Thoughts on Effective Collaboration

Digital PR and the Client / Agency relationship with Kristal Ireland and Jono Marcus.

PRCA hosted a fantastic Parkinson style event on Wednesday evening, where Jono Marcus - Director of Social Marketing and Online Strategy at Lucre Social, and Kristal Ireland -Digital Marketing Manager at Welcome to Yorkshire discussed various issues within social media from the agency and client side respectively.

It was really fascinating to hear the differences of perspective between the client and agency and here are a few points that were raised that particularly took my fancy...

- For a client looking for social media ideas, who do you go to - the purely digital agency or the PR agency?
Digital agencies naturally are the people that know what can be achieved realistically in regards to technology, and they are also the people that are exposed to the new and upcoming technologies that the PR agencies might not be aware of. The problem is, is that do the digital agencies have the effective marketing ideas like the PR agencies have? Do they have a firm understanding of PR knowledge and marketing that is needed once, for example, an iPhone app has been designed and developed.

- When does a client outsource for social media?
People are well aware of the time and effort that goes into up keeping your social media status and you would assume that your employees would know your companies identity far better than any agency. A dilemma that most clients will face is whether their employees have the time to devote themselves to updating their Twitter account etc. It is possible that some employees have enough passion to update their Twitter feed regularly out of their own interest. Although it is a risk that employees will not be active enough in order to have an effect, only updating their Twitter account every other day for example. On the other side if outsourcing, how well does the agency understand your brand? Does the agency really understand your audience and deliver your social media with sensitivity? The client is in effect, handing over their image and words to somebody else - needless to say this needs a great deal of client / agency trust.

- Does a client need to employ an agency in order to monitor your social media activity?
Leaving your analysis of social media activity until the end of every month is just not worth it and way too late to gain the most from any data you may have - finding out about a PR crisis 3 weeks after a dodgy tweet is not going to help anyone. As social media is up to the second in terms of news and responses to your tweets and updates - your social media monitoring should be the same. Using social media monitoring software could be a solution, but there has to be a person that knows the software inside out in order to properly interpret the data. Should this be an in house employee or agency? Probably in house - using an agency could result in unnecessary high fees - just don't leave it for the Junior / intern to decipher.

- How do PR agencies go about convincing clients of their 'blue sky' social media ideas?
It is an agencies duty to deliver what a client has asked of them, but how do you push them in the direction of your crazybrilliantgroundbreaking idea? Showing the client a projection of what they could have with a bigger budget down the line, indicates that you have ambition and scope for the client. They may well be more inclined to take on your 'blue sky' ideas when you have ascertained a certain level of trust and can illustrate your understanding of the client as a brand and their objectives. Some clients may feel that an agency coming to them with 'wacky far out' ideas reflects their misunderstanding of them as a company and you may even come across as being blatantly Awards driven. Awards, although being a great accolade to an agency, should not be deemed as a preoccupation over the companies objectives and brand - and big ideas may convey this impression. Also, make sure that your ideas can be easily understood, so that people of the non digital variety can get to grips with them (and approve them).

Any thoughts on the above, then please comment below!



  • An interesting read, thanks Alex. I would add the point on the question " Does a client need to employ an agency in order to monitor your social media activity?" that: only 1 in a million clients could possibly have someone with the experience & skills in-house to employ and make best use of the most sophisticated social media analysis tools. So it is much more cost-effective to use an agency in this scenario. Also generally agencies are often the bridge between what a brand wants to say to its audience and the best means and ways to say it. So however much in-house can be brand guardians the leap of faith taken in using an agency effectively is usually worth its weight in gold - in terms of fresh ideas, objective strategy,appreciation of audience needs
    26/02/2011 by Jono Marcus

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