I spoke with a couple of large PR firms this week around the US about how they are using social media, and what approach that they have. Something I am realizing is that there is a chance for these firms to use social media to really strengthen their client relationships in a way that is not occurring to most.
Most of the PR firms that I speak with are approaching social media monitoring in the same way that they approach mainstream media. By this I mean purely from a reporting perspective offering a landscape overview.
What we have been trying to highlight to these firms is that there is a chance for them to really make themselves a valuable asset to multiple departments inside their clients rather than just as a partner to the internal PR/Marketing team.
There exists an economic situation where many clients are finding that their budgets are shrinking, and cuts are to be made. Naturally this results in PR firm allowances being scaled back, or clients looking to move to more cost effective agencies for representation.
There is a real opportunity for PR firms to leverage social media so that their ties are cross departmental within their client base. Exceeding client expectations by highlighting new business opportunities to the business development team, or providing product feedback from consumers directly to the team in charge of product development and R&D should reduce the potential that clients will migrate to more cost effective options when the budget axe is wielded.
For those PR firms that are intent on keeping clients, and increasing the nature of existing relationships, social media offers a channel to do just that. It will require a more progressive and proactive approach, but will undoubtedly result in greater client reliance, and closer ties with each and every client.
The added benefit of providing a better service to existing clients is that as word of mouth spreads, not only does the reputation of the PR firm get a huge boost, but more potential clients will approach you seeking ways in which you could be a valuable partner for all of their internal business departments.
Food for thought.