What drives social media? Content.
And that’s been a huge problem for PR agencies as they grapple with the new media landscape completely transformed by social media. PR agencies don’t produce content. They use the content developed by their clients – from new products and services to customer acquisitions – to create a pipeline of news. The traditional methodology has been to write a press release and media pitches about the client’s “content” and distribute them through the news wires and to media contacts.
Good PR agencies have always been able to mine their client’s content effectively and help present it in a way that journalists find compelling. But under the new rules: that service is becoming of marginal value. Why create a program that focuses on getting the big business press hit when you can design and publish content without a media filter that speaks directly to your target audience?
Media relations will continue to be a component of what a PR agencies does – but it is fast losing its significance. If you design programs that speak directly to your primary audiences and use the new channels and social media platforms properly – you won’t need media relations (because customers and the media will come to you).
To be successful in the future, PR agencies need to become content creators. They have to help clients create content for all of the available channels – video, audio and the web. No longer will it be enough to sit on the sidelines and let clients come up with the content. PR agencies should be moving toward a model of a publishing and production house (and many large integrated agencies have done this already), but it was great to see a mid-sized agency embracing this mantra and jumping into the mix: SHIFT Communications.
This week, SHIFT announced a Digital Content Marketing Practice.
“The companies that, for years, chased after “ink” in the mainstream media are now starting to think like publishers themselves. Creating and sharing multimedia that helps spur dialogue in blogs, forums, Twitter, etc., has become almost as important as getting that elusive WSJ clip,” SHIFT principal Todd Defren wrote on his PR Squared blog.
And while I’ve had minor disagreements with Todd in the past (hey, it’s a conversation!), Todd and the folks at SHIFT are dead-on. SHIFT will be offering services such as: digital video productions, mobile/studio podcasting, live remote video capabilities, SEO, and digital/community building.
Dare I say it? This is a fantastic move, especially in light of the terrible economy. SHIFT is positioning itself as (please pardon the cliche) – a next-generation PR agency.
This is the direction all PR agencies should be heading in.