Lately I’ve heard a lot of talk budget reallocation. I’ve also read a lot of online buzz about the “death of the press release” (see Simon Dumenco’s article in Advertising Age online).
I have to disagree that it’s slim pickings for agencies today. I believe businesses are more willing than ever to allocate budgets to advertising, PR campaigns and social media. And I definitely don’t think that agencies or the press release should fear extinction.
The only thing agencies need to fear is fear itself.
Take HRB, for example. A few years ago we reassessed our clients’ needs and considered the importance of the growing symbiotic relationship between traditional and alternative forms of marketing. We merged with The Internet Marketing Group and began offering Web services for our clients—including e-mail marketing, social media marketing and Web design, to name a few. We established our company as a full-service strategic marketing firm that utilizes a combination of advertising, public relations, media buying, branding and Web efforts.
Not only do our offerings help us stand out among our competitors in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids Corridor, it helped us win the “Best PR & Advertising Agency” award from Corridor Business Journal™ readers this year. The variety of departments and obvious commitment of HRB’s team members is inspirational and admirable; and, it’s the reason the company is successful.
In essence, we are all reinventing our businesses and if we want to remain pertinent in our industry the employees need to learn and adapt their knowledge of new media.
Here are 10 ways that advertising and public relations agencies can thrive in today’s economy:
- Offer a diverse and unique set of skills and departments. Are you offering services that your competitors aren’t offering? If not, host a team meeting to assess your competition. Create new templates, new email marketing campaigns and new added values in your media buying proposals. HRB’s Growth Division is a testament to this.
- Encourage your employees to work longer hours. This isn’t unheard of in the advertising and public relations industries, but spending a few extra hours on an ad design, Website layout or press release shows that you’ve truly considered and reconsidered your clients’ branding needs. They will thank you for this by extending their contract with you or recommending your services to their own business contacts.
- Keep up with social media and Internet marketing trends and tools. This will help you stay ahead of your competition and discover fresh design and grassroots marketing ideas. At HRB, for example, we post a combination of industry, company and client updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages, proving that we’re able to think outside the box and that we’re good listeners.
- Hire young talent. HRB welcomed 3 new interns for the first time since the Flood of 2008. How many new employees has your company invested in? At HRB we welcome young talent and believe that fresh ideas are invaluable to the growth of the company. Hire college students that possess a high level of creativity, are extremely motivated and possess strong communication and computer skills. According to an article published by Sacramento Business Journal on September 3, the employment outlook for public relations specialists is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through 2016. If you’re willing to take the hiring plunge your company can reap many long-term benefits from this extra help .
- Be proactive and continually seek out RFP opportunities. Companies today expect you to come to them, and if you want to be the best agency in your city, state, nation or the world you need to act like it. Build a competitive sales team then educate them about the services you offer and what kinds of businesses they should be prospecting.
- Update your blog and Website on a daily and weekly basis. I can’t stress enough how crucial this is to the survival of your agency. Most agencies today have sections of their Website devoted to their blog, company news releases and their social media profiles. Review your competitors’ Websites and determine what they’re offering, then go beyond that to engage with your own audience. Add your company’s social media icons to your newsletter, Website and social media profiles and post updates whenever you make a change to these sections.
- Stay humble. One of the reasons I prefer working for smaller companies is because they’re humble about the awards they win and the strong relationships they’ve built with their clients. There’s no need to brag about your company online or offline and it’s much better rewarding to let your work speak for itself.
- Attend industry events. Encourage your employees to attend trade shows and conferences, seek out higher learning opportunities or earn their APR or their Master’s degree. If you’re able to afford it, reimburse your employees for continued education.
- Host seminars. HRB offers free seminars every other week in both Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities. I have had the pleasure of organizing and attending these seminars and can tell you that our team members are experts in their field. Not only do they offer free business advice but they answer attendee questions and concerns about the subject they’re presenting.