Gini Dietrich

The Big Question: Should a PR Agency Be Active on Social Media?

By: Gini Dietrich | May 5, 2017 | 

The Big Question: Should a PR Agency Be Active on Social MediaHave you ever hired a PR agency based upon a spectacular case study only to later find out they were just the arms-and-legs on the project?

Unfortunately, when evaluating a firm, it’s difficult to know where the agency vision stopped and the client input began.

That’s where looking at the firm’s own digital assets comes in.

This is especially true when evaluating a PR agency to do social media on behalf of your brand.

Taking a look at their own digital assets can give you a good idea of their creativity, understanding of new technologies, and their in-house capabilities.

Some PR agency owners argue they simply don’t have time for their own business development activities, such as keeping their social media channels up-to-date.

This week, we posed the question:

Should you hire a firm to do social media for your brand that doesn’t do it for its own firm?”

Here’s what agency pros and in-house communicators said.

A PR Agency Needs to Walk the Talk

Paula Kiger doesn’t buy the argument that PR agencies can’t be expected to do their own social.

It’s not like saying I am not going to use your accounting firm because you don’t print your own dollar bills.

If they don’t do social media for their own firm I would question a) if they are passionate about it (important) and b) if they are good at it (because lack of evidence).

I think a PR agency that doesn’t do social media for themselves would lose points on any evaluation I was doing.

Aimee West agrees with Paula.

I like that analogy Paula, I think if I ran into an accounting firm that printed their own $$ I would most likely run away! 😉

But seriously—when I was researching some social media companies for a past job, I was amazed at how many I found that had hardly any social media and a few had none!

I mean how am I supposed to see your work if you don’t even talk about yourself?

A few only had a one page website even and you were just supposed to contact them for everything.

Karen Wilson has a good example to put this into perspective.

I think that’s fair.

I’m not against outsourcing social.

It’s not having a presence at all and making that offering for others that I think is disingenuous.

I know a blog coach who doesn’t blog and it makes me twitchy every time I hear recommendations she makes to people who are her clients.

“Join Instagram. It will help with backlinks” is just one example.

The Shoemaker’s Children Excuse Just Doesn’t Cut it

Michelle Garrett points out a PR agency social channels provide learning opportunities that aren’t on the client’s dime:

This makes no sense.

Why would you want to hire an agency to handle social media when it can’t do it’s own social?

Yes, there is a “shoemaker’s child” syndrome in PR/marketing, but the agency should be trying out techniques using itself as a guinea pig to see what works—and what doesn’t.

Aide Gomez Miguelez asks the question on many marketers’ minds:

Can I ask the followup question why wouldn’t they do it?

I mean how are we supposed to know how good they are at social media marketing or content creation when we don’t see it?

It’s Nice to Have But Not a Deal-Breaker

Malcolm Gray says it’s good to see a PR agency active on social, but not a necessity:

I don’t think it’s necessary for agencies to have active social accounts but it doesn’t hurt.

It would be great to see what kind of creativity they have outside of brand guidelines and restrictions, but a strong client portfolio should be sufficient.

If they do have an inactive social media page, hopefully it’s because they’re giving so much attention to the client that they don’t have time to curate their own.

Tamaryn Tobian notes PR agencies don’t do social because it would be off-target for their client work.

We don’t do a ton of social media for ourselves—because our audience is different than that of our clients; it’s B2B whereas our clients are B2C.

So while we do some of our own social media, we typically show our potential clients the other clients we’ve worked with and their social growth because it’s a much better apples-to-apples comparison.

Effective Trade Show PR

Exhibiting at a trade show can be a big expense.

You can earn more value from the investment by expanding your trade show goals beyond lead generation to include PR.

That brings us to this week’s Big Question:

How can you drive PR results from your trade show participation?

You can answer here, in our Slack community, or on the socials (use #SpinSucksQuestion so we can find you).

If you answer the question and we feature your answer, you get a follow link to your site.

So get to answering!

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Totally agree. Anytime I see a digital marketing agency with really meager social profiles and the bio boasts, “specializing in social media/content creation/grow your following..” I feel like there’s an elephant in the room. Like, hellooooo, Is anyone else seeing this?!

    If your agency’s profile has 223 followers, and hasn’t posted since last month, it begs the question, “if you can’t even get found on social, how are you going to help me?”

    • I agree, DeeAnn. And it’s really difficult to consult clients on how to do it when you’re not doing it for yourselves. There’s no better teacher than experience.

  • GGPR

    I would also recommend looking at the tone of the agency’s social media posts as one means (of many) of determining if they are a good fit for your brand. Do they post cool and edgy content, or more plain and conservative content?

    • I love this! And, I would add, are they positive or negative in the posts and comments? It’s not exactly the same, but I sometimes want to yell, “You know potential employers can see you bashing your current employer, right??”

    • agree with this! and we should be blogging our successes. When you’re meeting with an agency or client to interview one another, that should be like the second round of interviews.

      In our digital age, we have the tools to know enough about the other party to know you like their work before you take the in person meeting.

      Our blogs are a chance to show off our work. It’s a no brainer.

  • I think it’s worse when bloggers, who are hired as influencers by brands for their content and ability engage community, outsource these things. It’s one thing to hire someone to do the administrative details on social media — Pinterest tags, optimizing posts, boosting with ad dollars, etc. When I get comments on my blog from peers that I respect only to later find it was their VA doing the commenting I feel sad and a little duped!

    We make the time for the things we prioritize. It’s not the other way around.

    • HAHAH! We have a client who wanted us to do that for him. I said, “But what happens when someone comes up to you at a conference and refers back to a “conversation” you had on social, only to be met with blank stares?” Silence…

      • I am in total agreement with this. My clients do not understand when I tell them that the best practice for social engagement is the principal of the firm or an appointed brand specialists. @Gini Dietrich, you are right on with the conference example!

        • I always like to ask them, “Who do you want to play golf with a prospect? Me? Or you?” Typically the answer is not me so then the conversation leads to how social is the same thing.