PR professionals are best at social media


It looks like public relations and advertising agencies are starting to see social media generate some revenue and see it as a growth strategy for 2011.

A joint study from the Transworld Advertising Agency Network and Worldcom Public Relations Group surveyed practitionners at 25 advertising agencies and 25 PR agencies in January 2011 on how effectively the industry is using social media. The groups found fees from social media made up a greater percentage of overall revenues in 2011 for both types of agencies.

In 2010, 28% of PR agencies reported that 15% to 33% of revenues came from social media, and that number has jumped to 44% in 2011. On the advertising side, 16% of respondents reported that social media revenues were greater than the 15% of their total revenues in 2010, and these are expected to rise to 20% in 2011.

One of the main reasons that PR agencies are making more on social media is because PR professionals are better as using it. The survey found that 84% of PR agencies and 67% of ad agencies reported that PR is ‘innovative’ and ‘keeping pace’, while only 68% of PR agencies and 52% of advertising agencies said the same about the advertising industry. PR professionals are considered better at communicating to and having a dialogue with audience groups than their advertising counterparts, and those skills translate well to social media.

My take? Of course I’m biased towards PR being the owner of social media not only because we do it better, but because we take a higher level view of reputation than just revenue generations and sales than advertising professionals do. Still, both groups need to work together to integrate social media into all communications, marketing and otherwise.

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Sherrilynne Starkie is a consultant at PDMS. For almost 18 years, Sherrilynne has been advising blue-chip organisations on both sides of the pond, covering Britain, Canada and the United States. For three years, Sherrilynne was the Tech Talk columnist for the Isle of Man newspapers. She serves on the steering committee for Isle of Man Women in Business, is on the Executive Council for the Isle of Man Junior Chamber of Commerce. In the past she was on the management committee for the Isle of Man British Computer Society and the marketing committee of Junior Achievement.