Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Digital and PR work well in collaboration

Throughout this year, as I've talked about previously, we've been doing more and more digital work in collaboration with traditional agencies, in particular PR agencies.

The work, on the whole, has been very successful for all parties. The partnership seems to compliment the strengths of each of our skill sets well.

With a PR agency's idea and communication skills combined with our digital media expertise we've produced a variety of products from micro-sites through to more viral ideas that have generated a lot of social media interest.

Having worked for a PR agency for nearly 5 years, I'm fully aware how too often PR is overlooked or PR budgets cut to ensure extra monies are spent on the shiny gloss of the main advertising campaign.

In this age of social media, PR has a very important role to play. We are all learning how to become more engaging, yet PR agencies have made personal engagement their business for years.

Combine PR companies experience in engagement with the bespoke capabilities and instantaneous nature of the digital media format and you're cooking on gas, or you should be.

In order to fulfil this relatively new market requirement we've seen a few specialist agencies filling this gap.

This week the internet has been a-buzz with talk of We Are Social's involvement in the Eurostar problems. We Are Social are one of the specialist agencies that deal with this kind of service, offering expertise in the digital arena with years of experience in PR.

While the Eurostar case is not an example of a perfect implementation of PR in a digital environment, in fact it is anything but, I don't see We Are Social as being to blame for this. It is, however, an illustration of the potential power of the combination of PR in a digital environment.

The facility to tailor content delivery or capture real time content and then publish responses to those conversations in a real time environment enables PR agencies to engage brands with their audiences like never before.

The daunting element for many brands with this is its real time nature and equally the uncontrollable aspect of unrestricted feedback. In order utilise this channel to its full potential decisions need to be made on a real time basis with the experience required to make those correctly.

Clients need to trust their agencies to advise them correctly about the right course of action to take; this trust should have been built up via working examples of collaborative work already completed.

Another recent social media campaign that seemingly missed the point of digital engagement in a real time environment was the Toyota social media campaign in Australia. User generated content or product has, or should have, all the call signs of being driven by peoples own interpretation of a subject.

Toyota put a challenge to their internet fans and the creative community to create a new advert for its Yaris model. The process that unfolded was far from the transparent process that this kind of campaign expects and demands. It followed that the feedback and response it received was inevitably not positive in this community driven environment.

With good PR experience this kind of mistake should have been avoided; and had it not been avoided they would have at least had the experience on board to deal with the backlash that followed.

Digital media, and the social media landscape that has evolved out of it, present brands with a great opportunity to raise awareness in a positive and personally engaging fashion.

Ensuring you have the right advice and experience to complete the work well is an essential component for success.

I look forward to a new year that includes many more digital projects delivered in collaboration with the expertise that PR agencies bring.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Further reading:

Managing the difference between traditional and digital media production - Digital Signals

A digital evolution for all media agencies - Digital Signals

Brands on Friendfeed - A different proposition to Twitter - Digital Signals

It's all about communication - Digital Signals

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