Does Your PR Agency Need a Community Manager?

community Manager


According to a post by Jack Neff at Advertising Age, the Community Manager position is hot right now. Many companies are hiring or have recently hired community managers to manage their social brands.

In fact, the list of companies with community managers from Neff’s article reads like a partial Who’s Who of today’s corporate world. It includes:

  • Walt Disney Company
  • Allstate
  • Office Depot
  • Citibank
  • Vonage

My own quick search (through Google) for community manager positions yielded a fairly large number of recent openings for the community manager position including one for a real estate investment firm, a top tier technology blog, and one for a recruitment site.

The job of a community manager is to interact with customers and prospective customers through social media. The community manager also monitors what customers are saying about the brand. Many consider the community manager role to be one of customer service, but there is a marketing aspect to it as well.

Community management can be a tough gig. At CommunitySpark, a blog from Martin Reed dedicated to community building, Reed outlines some of the negative and positive aspects of being a community manager.

With all the excitement surrounding the community management position, you may be tempted to jump on the bandwagon and hire a community manager for your PR agency or for your biggest client–but, are you really ready?

Here are some questions to ask before you hire:

  • Are our customers online, or are they likely to go online within the next year?
  • Does our company already have an effective social media presence?
  • Can we afford to pay a competitive salary for a community manager?
  • Is management willing to support the community manager role?

It may seem obvious that if your customers and potential customers aren’t online then a community manager probably isn’t needed. Don’t take your customer’s non-involvement for granted, though. More consumers than ever before are setting up social media accounts and becoming active online.

If your company’s blog and website are lackluster and your current social media presence is anemic at best, throwing a community manager at the problem may not solve it. Take steps to bring your online presence up to par and then add the community manager to the mix.

One of the biggest mistakes that companies make when hiring a community manager is not paying for a professional community manager. The other mistake is to add community management responsibilities to the workload of a current employee.

Finally, management must be willing to respond to the findings of the community manager. It won’t do any good if your community manager uncovers a customer problem on Twitter, but management is unwilling to take the steps needed to solve it.

Has your PR agency or company already brought a community manager in-house? How is the position working for you?

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Comments

  1. David says

    Laura,

    Are you aware of any (software) companies that are Community-driven, yet still issue press releases? Why would a CEO who wants his company to be considered community-driven not want the benefits of issuing press releaeses to enhance his SEO or other social media endeavors? Would software developers see a press release as being ‘too corporate’ and therefore not about community?

    I’m a community manager for a software company also tasked with doing PR.

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