PR Agencies - The New Digital Normal

On a recent trip to Japan, where I’d previously worked as the head of communications for Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank, I met a friend who runs a major PR firm in Tokyo.  He told me that his firm was unrecognizable from the PR agencies of 10 years ago.  “I have content developers, designers, web developers, social media and SEO experts.  PR is just one of the things we do.”

In one sentence, he summed up the new normal of public relations.  PR agencies are no longer just about media relations.  Increasingly, they offer a broad range of digital and social media skill sets critical to the success of marketing communications strategies.  Read the evolution of Public Relations Professionals by the International Association of Business Communicators. 

With any business the best results come from doing a lot of things right at the same time.  The same is true in a communications program.  PR will get you some of the way. Rarely can your goals be achieved without an integrated and sequenced approach to communications across a wide range of digital disciplines.  PR firms have evolved to meet this need.  

When choosing a firm it is important to understand the capabilities an agency or consultancies focused on specific areas such as SEO, social media or email marketing, bring to the table.  CommunicationsMatch is a great starting place to search for firms with the expertise a business needs.  

Knowing your options is always a good starting point and ultimately serves as basic due diligence.  From that point on asking the right questions of a few firms is a powerful way to learn more about what they do and how they compare to each other. If you rely on word-of-mouth alone, you could be overlooking firms that may be best positioned to achieve your goals.  

In a future post, we’ll write more about questions to ask to help find the right communications partner.  In the meantime, I invite you to give CommunicationsMatch a try.  Do a few searches and read some of the thought leadership from our listed companies.  It’s a valuable resource for hiring not only public relations firms, but the range of expertise you will need to build and protect your brand and business.       

Other useful sources of information include:  The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) on the PR industry and Smart Insights on marketing-focused topics.  


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