We had the opportunity recently to speak with Glen Korstrom of Business in Vancouver about the impact that social media has had on the world of public relations. In fact, we’re quoted in his article this week. (You need a subscription to read the piece online.) We were thrilled that we were quoted as a thriving Vancouver PR agency that has embraced social media as a part of our offering.
I wanted to share a little more of what we discussed. As mentioned in the article, while there are many who do think that the business model for PR is broken, I’m not one of them. I think that it has evolved and that it had to change for many reasons, including social media, but it’s not broken. And let’s keep in mind that we’re talking about the business model here, not the actual work that PR people or communicators undertake on behalf of their clients. How we, as PR agencies, run our businesses and make a profit has had to shift. And for our part, we began shifting years ago and it’s been a positive move for us. We saw the evolution of the business of PR as an opportunity for AHA.
As for the work that we do as communicators, in my opinion, social media has provided us with additional tools and opportunities. But at the core of it all – and I know you’ve heard me say this before – it is strategy. In fact, social media has provided the opportunity to authentically connect with stakeholders in a way that even five years ago, we never dreamed would be possible. Social media is only one component of a communicator’s toolkit and I think it’s important to keep that in mind.
I don’t think that it’s just social media that has changed the business model. I also think the recent recession had many organizations reviewing how they could get the most value out of their PR or communications budget. Smaller agencies like AHA provide clients with excellent service, we’re really good at what we do, we’re proactive and we’re incredibly responsive to client needs. AND at AHA, a partner works on every account. You don’t meet the senior team at the initial meeting and then get passed off to a more junior person. At the end of the day – in the middle and at the start of it – it’s Paul and I that are connected to the client. Don’t get me wrong; it’s definitely a team effort here. Depending on the project, different members of our crew are actively involved, but accountability and responsibility rest on my shoulders and on Paul’s. We are hearing more and more that this is important to clients and they like that they get top level skill sets with the client service that can only come from a small agency.
I know that we’re not for everyone. And that’s ok with us. The fact is, we choose our clients as carefully as they choose us. When we started AHA, we outlined who we want to be and how we want to spend our time at work. One of the biggest factors for us is that we wanted to find great clients – people who want to create a real partnership, see us as a valuable part of their team, and provide us with the same respect and consideration that we give them. And let me tell you, we have great clients!
Social media and technology have created the need for change in the business model of PR. And I have to say, given our record of success at this new model; we’re pretty excited about it!
What do you think, how has social media changed the business model for PR?