Two days ago we waded into three of the top PR firms on O’Dwyer’s list of America’s most successful. Where digital footprints and online engagement are concerned, even now some firms still practice giving lip service only to real digital engagement. Why this is a big deal is as simple as the old adage; “The proof is in the pudding.” In a super competitive world of digital communications, your firm had better be able to “put up” – or just shut up.
The 25 most successful communications firms in America should all have the bases covered, shouldn’t they? For the small and mid sized PR company out there watching them, you would love to have their resources – now wouldn’t you? If you need a PR, you want transparency and results too, huh? So what about companies that claim they are cutting edge “socially wired” – but in reality they are closer to brick and mortar gumshoes?
Fahlgren Mortine, Columbus, OH – In Need of Improvement
I stated out this morning on a positive note. Surfing over to Fahlgren Mortine, I found a really nice corporate website – not striking, but crisp. “Oh good”, I said. But as in most cases of digital PR these days – drilling down proved a shallow exercise here too. The 22nd most poweful American PR firm offers a blog, some nice pictures, even a couple of proud moments engaging bloggers with a Morton’s Burger contest – but my enthusiasm fizzled.
Twitter, Facebook, Netvibes, Slideshare, some Delicious saves, even a somewhat dated Fickr account do not add up to a conversation of any sort – these are “broadcast” elements. Fahlgren, like Edelman and others in the top 5 early on, has to heat up their social brand – a good bit. This is my assessment, I hope no one comes to argue. I leave the reader with the firm’s own dogma – seeing we have been a big part of the conversation these past couple of years. A picture of people in a conversation does not make one.
“The most influential conversations about your brand aren’t always your own.”
Cubitt Jacobs & Prosek, New York, NY – Fast Engaging
Moving on (I am getting more prone to just calling BS quickly), number 21 Cubitt Jacobs & Prosek instantly gave me reason for hope – an email address for the top dog (whether it works or not) is a sure sign someone is at least awake. Just so she knows, Managing Partner Jennifer Prosek does have an email in her inbox (we can be multidimensional here). In fact, all the PR dogs at CJ&P are accessible and have in depth bios – good news if you want to know your future PR.
The Facebook, Twitter, and other elements though? Again – my enthusiasm fizzles. But wait! CJ&P may just fall into the “we’re too damned busy” category – like Edelman and Waggener Edstrom – listening but not caught up. Why do I say this? Wilson Cleveland’s “digital” CJP contingent (you should be a little more proud of this on the landing). Yes, it is a broadcast variable, but a crucial digital media element. Video being the most digital of digital indicators. For this (and a lot of other reasons) CJ&P is one of the top 25 firms competitors and prospective clients should watch. (watch, they will take the advice herein).
SS | PR, Chicago – Is This the Chicago Way?
Last but certainly not least, SSPR occupies the number 20 spot on O’Dwyer’s list. Like any of the really “wired” companies, SS|PR reveals its people (and their email addresses) like people matter to them. I must say here, what PR on Earth is so important people should not email them? On the down side for this firm, their website’s aesthetics do not translate into anything good navigation or engagement wise – the short of that – dead links and fragmented info stamp “uncaring” on some businesses.
And, seventy one people liking a Facebook entry by a multi-million dollar PR firm? That’s a travesty in the digital world – but the spot is personable – on the edges of human likability are least. Their Twitter outreach is respectable at best. Steve Simon’s super successful PR firm had better throw some resources at looking more like the social guru’s they claim to be.
“SS | PR helps get you there with a ‘Social Media Bootcamp’ designed to shape your use of Web 2.0 tools like blogs, Facebook and Twitter.”
I have said it 10,000 times – putting your Rolex store inside a dilapidated building, cheap fakes in the boxes, and offering service from a truck outside the back door – just does not cut it. If anyone should know this, the PR should. Practicing what you preach is ever so crucial in an industry most people think is pure BS. How can you offer a bootcamp for businesses if you cannot even shoot a rifle?
While some very high profile agencies are simply catching up, their schedules and priorities dictating much, Edelman, WE, even hard and fast traditionals like APCO Worldwide respond to these criticisms, these industry demands. Don’t come to Sparta with shoe-leather skills expecting a warm welcome.
What we have in big time PR (even little time) is “Failure to Communicate” digitally.