9 Ways to Help Your B2B PR Agency Become a Social Leader

In 2007, we are a B2B PR firm. We don’t care about social media.

In 2008, not one client had conducted a social media campaign. We are “awake” but worried.

In 2009, we established digital footprints for about 75% of our clients. We begin to anticipate emerging opportunities before some of our competitors.

In 2010, almost every one of our clients adds social to their marketing mix. We feel momentum.

So how did we get here? Last Friday I had the pleasure of sharing that journey with the members of TAAN, the Transworld Advertising Agency Network. Here are 9 of the steps we took:

  1. Led the charge myself, instead of delegating it: Oh, we tried it the other way first. But changing an agency requires someone with authority to lead the charge. When you add in that senior folks are also the most likely to be counseling clients or building relationships with prospects, there’s almost no excuse for agency leaders to hide. Yet lots of them do, have you noticed?
  2. Hired my own teacher: My father always says “know what you don’t know.” Be the best possible student you can be. I was fortunate enough to have Jay Baer. There are other smart folks like Beth Harte or Jason Falls. If you can’t afford to hire someone, customize your teacher with a carefully organized RSS system. P.S. You’re never done.
  3. Accepted that this would be a slow build process for clients: Rushing does not work, especially with uncomfortably new forms of communication. Start by becoming their educational resource and patiently build from there.
  4. Created little programs: Don’t be greedy. Identify a few helpful projects that integrate nicely into broader marketing strategies. Let the clients have a manageable “taste” of what social feels like.
  5. Kept in mind that there is no such thing as an ongoing gold rush: The time is already past, but for awhile there you could actually charge for setting up a Twitter feed. Instead, focus your energies on integrating social with long term PR and marketing goals. It’s harder, but that’s where you truly add value.
  6. Relied heavily on our history of thought leadership: Here’s where we got a little bit lucky. Our 30 years of focus on the professional and financial services industries meant that we already understood how to translate complex content into actionable marketing. Arguably, we would have enjoyed much less social success without that skill set.
  7. Pushed agency employees to accept changing job descriptions: Honestly, this was even harder than we thought it would be. People don’t like to change. But it can be done. And once folks see a happy client, they tend to get much more motivated.
  8. Leveraged adjacent services: Once you jump into digital PR, you quickly discover that you both need new products and you can sell new products. Be nimble. We quickly developed offerings for SEO and video production, among others.
  9. Fell in love with Google Analytics: When I finally understood that it was possible to tie data to marketing investments, the future opened up before my eyes. Run, do not walk, to develop your skills.

I’m not sure what will happen in 2011. But I do know that I’ve never had more fun than I’m having right now, in spite of the tricky lessons along the way.

What about you and your firm? Can you offer any tips about your own evolution?

To reach Elizabeth:

Phone: 212.840.0017
Email: elizabeth@blisspr.com
Twitter: @elizabethsosnow
LinkedIn: Elizabeth Sosnow