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The PRCA have put together a digital PR report for the UK market in association with YouGov and the Holmes Report. The report made for interesting reading and raised some questions in my own mind about the industry.
The main challenge raised by the panelists interviewed by the Holmes Report was one of agencies spreading themselves to wide in terms of a service offering. I think that this is about knowing when to partner and when to do it in agency. They flagged training as a secondary issue; I have done training in a number of agencies and found that the issue was having teams be able to implement their knowledge in a timely manner.
Back to the digital PR report:
Considering that the digital PR report was both agencyside and inhouse the sample size could be bigger. I suspect that the sample skewed towards business-to-business sectors looking at the answers later on. I suspect that the total digital marketing spend was bigger than the figures quoted simply because it probably happens outside the sphere of the communications department interviewed in these surveys.
A smaller majority of respondents struggled to measure the ROI of social, but majority of respondents also said that their goals for social were ‘general marketing’, brand awareness and reach. This would be harder to wrap SMART objectives around to measure the activity against. Perhaps it is a mistake that so many in-house teams were defining social strategies? For business-to-business clients that I work with marketing automation tools are being looked to, in order to provide the ‘last mile’ in attribution and ROI for tactics that would fall under digital PR.
I was surprised that 74% of respondents felt that the communications department was the first choice for digital tactical activity. I would have expected a stronger showing from marketers, this may be skewed by the sample. Part of the reason for my surprise is that many of the tactics used in digital PR would fall under search and digital marketing disciplines; we’ve hit a singularity in marketing and the roles and responsibilities could get messy. The numbers suggested a rise in the number of organisations with dedicated social teams; which was closer to my hypothesis.
Looking at in-house needs versus agency offerings I was very conscious of the fact that search seems to have largely passed the PR industry by; except when it comes to ‘online reputation management’ and ‘digital crisis management’. Whilst agencies think that digital is going to be a massive source of revenue, there seems to be be a reallignment of figures required as more inhouse teams get on with it without agency help.
In terms of branching out into future platforms I was surprised to see Instagram rank so highly for what feels like largely business-to-business respondents. I can only assume that Google+ was considered a future platform as this survey could have been conducted prior to Google recently moving away from attaching content authorship to Google+ profiles. In terms of training requirements, web design and build is probably something that should be provided by a professional rather than training PRs to have a go. Whilst intelligent, generally PR people aren’t that visual in their thinking (despite what they may say, the proof of the pudding is in the multitude of pitch decks that I have seen over the past 16 years or so).
Study: Digital Skills Gap Poses Challenge For UK PR Firms | Holmes Report