Public relations executives and their advertising counterparts both believe PR is using social media more effectively, according to a joint study by the Worldcom Public Relations Group, an international network of independent PR firms, and the Transworld Advertising Agency Network, an organization of ad agencies. The study was conducted by Elizabeth Sosnow, managing director of Worldcom member BlissPR.
Fully 84 percent of PR respondents were pleased with their profession’s approach to social media campaigns, with 20 percent describing the industry as an “innovative marketing communications leader” and another 64 percent saying it was “keeping pace.” By contrast, only 52 percent of the advertising respondents rated their profession either “innovative” (12 percent) or “keeping pace” (40 percent). Another 40 percent said the advertising industry was “falling behind.”
Asked to rate their sister professions, the results were similar. The advertising respondents gave PR a positive rating of 67 percent, with 13 percent calling it “innovative” and 54 percent “keeping pace,” higher grades than they gave themselves. In fact, the PR respondents gave advertising higher marks than did the advertising chiefs, with a positive rating of 68 percent from 20 percent “innovative” and 48 percent “keeping pace.”
Ad executives seem more comfortable working with their PR counterparts generally and in the social media realm. Asked to characterize their relationship with PR firms or PR departments, 40 percent said it was “seamless on an ongoing basis” and another 24 percent said it was “fruitful on a project basis.” On the other hand, only 24 percent of the PR respondents felt their relationship with ad agencies was “seamless” the same number who said it was “fruitful.”
When the same question was asked specifically about working with sister agencies in social media, the disparity widened. Fully 64 percent of the ad agencies felt the relationship was either “seamless” (32 percent) or “fruitful” (32 percent). Only 8 percent of the PR firms felt their relationship with ad agencies was “seamless” and another 28 percent found it “fruitful.”
“This survey has two major takeaways for me,” said Virginia Sheridan, president of M. Silver Public Relations and chair of the board of directors of Worldcom’s Americas region. “First, both advertising agencies and PR firms foresee sustained growth in social media. Second, it seems clear that such growth could be substantially enhanced by our professions working more closely together to capitalize on each others’ strengths.”
Asked how their agencies planned to capitalize on the social media “boom,” the advertising and PR respondents held very similar views. Both groups cited the need to “integrate” social media in all marketing communications campaign and program planning (32 percent), “invest” in new people or training to get their organizations up to speed (16 percent) and to “educate” their clients about the potential of social media (8 percent).
Looking back at 2010, and combining the answers from both groups, the campaigns getting the most votes were Old Spice (5) and Burger King, Starbucks and Movember (2 each).