Top PR Companies: Hunter PR, Zeno Group & Digital Media

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Picking up where we left off last week, Everything PR News takes a peek at the top 25 PR firms in America. Last week we ended with Widemeyer PR out of Washington D.C. at position number 17. This week we lead off with number 16 Hunter PR, a Madison Avenue firm that netted over $10 million in fees. Sadly, some of the companies with the most resource and potential practice digital hawg calling only.

Hunter PR

Okay, PR News named Hunter PR its Best Digital PR Firm of 2010 – at least according to Hunter’s landing. On top of this, Hunter was also a Best Place To Work winner too. To be brief though, once again there is a problem. First off Hunter’s site is not exactly indicative of a firm connected to the heartstrings of digital media and networking. How a firm gets to be the best digital firm without going full bore digital – now there is a mystery I will have to delve into.

Hunter PR's online images is not stellar

Hunter PR, excellent or not, online

If you want an introduction to Hunter’s brain-trust for instance, they are conveniently located on this PDF. A very active Facebook aspect shows not only that Hunter is not just broadcasting themselves across the waves, but too that figuring out “who is who” among their leaders and soldiers is – well, it just is not a priority. Checking out the party atmosphere at Hunter is however.  Let’s just break down what Hunter PR does not do: Blog frequently or importantly even, break their so called “case studies” into paragraphs for easy reading, or practice what they preach in another PDF about social engagement (as far as I can tell). Maybe someone will come and enlighten me like the man who did not like my Widemeyer review?

Twitter is a good indicator sometimes of a firms dedication to “the conversation” versus what is termed “broadcasting.” For Hunter, their engagement leans far to the “hollering” and less to the “listening” side of things. Their follows to followers ratio is nice, and someone there knows the cryptic lingo, but self interest just outweighs any inkling they are about what people are saying. This is my assessment at least.  But too, we have all been guilty a time or two. To abbreviate the painful task of microscopically dissecting Hunter, let’s just give them a C- for actual online self branding, and an A for having very powerful clients.

Z Is For Zeno Group

At the number 15 spot in O’Dwyer’s list of top PR firms, Zeno Group. Well, if anyone wonders about just how good this firm is, they are now an Edelman company. But, as for their digital footprint? Barby Siegel’s company knows how – but how refined their online brand is, may be

I always look at how easily the CEO of a company can be accessed by people online – for Siegel the answer is her contact points one layer down. She does not have a giant glowing Twitter button there, but direct email and phone seem transparent enough in this case.  As for the blog engagement, unlike a great many, Zeno Group is on the move upwards – if still virtually invisible compared to what it could be.

The firms overall connect points are interestingly (perhaps even incorrectly) underneath the landing page and others here. Looking at these elements more closely though, it is easy to see Zeno just engages Twitter via needed envoys, they could care less about conversation. Their Zeno Digital Twitter pages do not even exist? A digital “no-no” suppling dead links. 145 people (counting me) in “like” with Zeno on Facebook pretty much labels the firm – “Digitally Lame” where illustrating presence where you want to work goes.

Zeno not exactly beating the conversation bushes

Zeno’s participation lacking

My last observation of the company’s online presence is not good either – showing Zhu Zhu Pets as a graphic case study in success will never garner my support. Not when I have 300 pages on my desk from the CPSC revealing nothing – more on that later in the month. Let’s be kind here and give Zeno a C for know how to engage Mommy Bloggers, and an overall B+ because they say so:

“Zeno Group’s mandate is to deliver results for our clients by capturing imaginations and moving people and ideas to action.”

Father Guido Engages the Web

I know someone from one of these firms, under the guise of perhaps Guido Sarducci, will come and comment something like; “Why do you think a PR firm needs a blog to be connected?” The answer could be; “If you have to ask…”, but in reality doing a piss poor job of anything when you have these people’s resources is – is inexcusable. I hope that is clear for Guido. Ken Makovsky, the founder and CEO of his namesake company knows this. Just why his company pays lip service to social media and conversation at all is a mystery to me. With clients like Philips Consumer Electronics and IBM, one might expect better though.

Makovsky PR hollers with the loudest of em.

I rest my case, a picture being worth a thousand words

The Online Fluency blog (I nearly did not find) does take Makovsky a little bit farther along the road – but nope, it apparently gave up the ghost back  in December 2009. So much for engaging conversation, Makovsky luckily does not claim unparalleled digital and social triumph like some of the others.

But, if their own dogma, reflected in Industry Issues – volume 24, number 8 “Social Media is the New Customer Service” has any truth to it – well, Ken and Co. should have listened to the Cone study more closely. This American does expect companies (especially communicators) to have a valid social presence. Makovsky gets an F for even including this study, and of course an A for being one of the best investment counseling firms in the business.

I am a firm believer in true excellence being genuine. Many who have come under scrutiny here have taken a defensive posture over criticisms, understandably sometimes. Other, even very influential and powerful companies, have understood what we try to accomplish. Claiming anything, without evidence to back it up, is simply now good business. Some ask; “Who are you to be so critical?”

The short answer there being, a PR, an analyst of Web 2.0 startups and sites, and more importantly a potential consumer. If I can find some inconsistency, imagine a potential client with $1 million to spend on going “social” in the digital world. Enough said, companies with no excuse should not profess things they clearly do not possess.  Phil out and onto the next group. Let’s see who’s listening. I leave you with the New York City PR Diva below broadcasting to her digital brethren.

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