How to Choose the Right PR Agency for your Digital Communications

Posted on 28 August 2010 in Online PR, Public Relations.

PR AgencyPR agencies are changing. They’re no longer just about managing your reputation through traditional media channels. Technology and the Internet are expanding the services PR agencies provide including social media marketing, search engine optimisation and even blogging, web design and web development. But how do you choose the right PR agency to handle your digital marketing? After all, things have changed so quickly in recent years, you want to make sure that the agency you hire is technically savvy and able to offer the services it says it can.

It comes as no surprise to know that many PR agencies who claim they can provide digital communications might not be providing the best service. Because some might be trying to apply the same old traditional marketing techniques to new online media. And that just doesn’t work.

So how do you spot these dinosaurs? How can you choose the right PR agency for your own digital focus? Here’s our top tips on how to pick an agency that will offer you the best digital communications for your business.

Do your Research

The beauty of the Internet is that you can really do your research on anything and anyone. Type any PR agency’s name into Google or Bing and see how many times they appear in the results. If they’re everywhere and on various forums, social media profiles, message boards and online communities – then it’s safe to say, they know their stuff. Also do a simple link query in Google, e.g. ‘link:www.boomerangpr.com’ and you’ll be shown the number of links pointing to that url. If there are a lot of quality links, then you’re on the right track.

Check out their own Social Media Accounts

Next, look at their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. This is a real key point. If the PR agency is only broadcasting about themselves and not engaging in any online conversation, then run away fast! This is a traditional PR agency that is clearly not web savvy. However, if the PR agency clearly has a strong following and understands that social media is about interaction, then you’re on the right path. Look at how often they update; consider who and what they’re following and who’s following them; make sure they are engaging rather than selfishly self-broadcasting and see whether they understand social media optimisation. The dinosaurs are pretty easy to spot, so you can’t go wrong.

Consider their own SEO

Think of the PR agency’s keywords… For example, ‘PR Agency Cheshire‘ or ‘PR Agency Stoke-on-Trent‘ and type it into Google. Where do they appear? If they’re number one, it’s a pretty good indication that they know their stuff when it comes to SEO. Because PR is the new SEO. It essentially goes hand-in-hand with online public relations and forms part of your off-page SEO efforts. If the PR agency you’re researching is nowhere to be found for simple keywords, then it’s a very clear indication that they’re not digitally savvy. If they do appear on the first page for those local search terms, do some further digging. See where they come for more competitive search terms like ‘PR Agency’. If they’re on the first three pages, then that’s a very good thing indeed.

Ask about their online PR focus

A press release is a presentation of facts and something that is sent to journalists in the hope that they will use that information to publish a story. These days, press releases are sent to both offline and online media. But watch out! Because a PR agency that is digitally savvy will draft two versions of the same press release, knowing that the online version should be written specifically with search engines in mind. Ask the question and see what they say. If there’s no mention of writing SEO-friendly press releases, then they clearly don’t know what they’re doing.

Consider their Work in Action

Look at the PR agency’s clients and see which Twitter or Facebook accounts they’re looking after. If they’re using the same self-broadcasting and selfish one-way communication – something that’s associated with traditional PR and marketing – then it’s likely they’ll do the same for your business. And that’s not what you want or need.

Look at their Social Media Focus

If you meet a potential PR agency and they claim they’ll be able to get you thousands of followers on Twitter or ‘likes’ on Facebook, then walk away fast. This shouldn’t be what’s important! Social media is about building a community, engaging with customers and interacting. It might be that your business doesn’t need to be on social media. A true digital PR agency will advise you on what’s best for your needs.

What about Blogging and Web Copy?

PR agencies who are on the ball will have SEO trained copywriters on their team. PR agencies who truly understand digital communications will know exactly how to draft copy suitable for your blog, website or even your social media accounts. It’s about writing copy with both humans and search engines in mind. Ask the PR agency if they have SEO trained people on their team.

Ask to see Live Examples

Finally, ask for some clear live examples of where their digital communications have achieved measured and successful results. It’s important to choose an agency that is completely comfortable with its online achievements. There’s nowhere to hide in the online world so you’ll be able to quickly and easily see where their influence has resulted in success for their clients.

Keeping in mind all of the above, Boomerang is an agency that has:

  • plenty of connections across the web as well as quality links to its home page
  • a strong social media following in which it interacts with daily
  • first positioning in Google for the terms ‘PR Agency Cheshire’ and ‘PR Agency Stoke’ as well as second page positioning for the extremely competitive keyword ‘PR Agency’, beating some of the globe’s leading PR agencies
  • a team of inhouse digital copywriters who are fully trained in SEO and understand how to write copy for online media, blogs and websites
  • a popular creative industries e-zine called Creative Boom which attracts over 10,000 visitors per day and is supported by The Guardian, Carbonmade and Vimeo, to name but a few
  • a range of digital services on offer, including online PR, social media marketing, SEO and web design and development – helping you to make the most of the web and all things online.

What’s more, we were established in 1998 as a web and software development firm, so we’re technically savvy and have since incorporated a PR agency to provide comprehensive digital communications. If you want expert digital marketing support, just give us a call! We won’t bite!

And if we don’t think we’re right for you, we’d be happy to point you in the direction of other agencies whom we can strongly recommend. After all, it’s your business that counts the most.

Tagged with Bing, Digital PR, facebook, google, Interactive PR, LinkedIn, Media, Online PR, search engine optimisation, Search Marketing, SEO, SMO, twitter

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. publicrelationswriter
    Sep 18, 2010 @ 03:53:58

    I couldn’t agree more with this article. Times are changing and PR agencies need to change along with it. It is important for public relations clients to know what to look for when they are looking for a public relations professional or firm. Potential clients should have a good idea of what they need and know the right questions to ask so they can make a list of pros and cons for each firm that they interview. And they should interview–not just pick a firm out of the telephone book. Although a referral from another satisfied customer is advantageous, it also may have some drawbacks–namely, that the satisfied customer may not have had the same PR needs that the potential client has and this should be taken into consideration. A client who needs social media coverage, for example, is different from one who does not and if the PR firm is not up-to-date and cannot provide the needed service for the new client although they provided excellent service to the satisfied customer, their service to the new client will be less than satisfactory.

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