PR Meets Marketing

Update on Trusting PR Agencies without a Social Media Presence with Your Social Media Programs

In February 2009, I wrote a post titled “Would YOU Trust a PR Firm without a Social Media Presence with Your Social Media Programs” to determine how many agencies were active in social media.

While anyone who establishes a Twitter account or LinkedIn Group is not automatically an “expert” on social media, I do believe that you should practice what you preach. This point, as well as the role of a corporate presence vs. individual contributors, generated a lot of discussion.

Since the original post, my position about individual contributors has evolved. I believe that employees are an integral, if not essential, part of a successful social media strategy. However,  to simplify the data gathering and analysis, I opted to focus on corporate presences, recognizing that multiple individuals are contributing on behalf of the agency.

I’ve included a slideshare presentation below, images on flickr that you can share (including the infographic to the left), and the list of PR agencies accessible via Google Docs (All changes for 2010 are indicated in red. Please feel free to make an update and include a comment below). 

Key Findings: PR Firms More Social in 2010

* PR agencies increased their social media presence in 2010, with Flickr (500%), YouTube (379%) and Twitter (131%) demonstrating the largest increases respectively.

* While most agencies didn’t link to their social media channels on their website in 2009, 83% included this on their home page in 2010.

* Twitter was the most popular social media channel, with 80% of PR agencies having a presence. 35% had followers numbering over 1000.

* 2 to 1, PR agencies had a Facebook Page or Group vs. a LinkedIn Group Page

Conclusions: What a difference a year makes

In just over 18 months, PR agencies have increased their presence on several social media channels. While content was not evaluated as part of this review, some agencies leveraged Flickr and YouTube to promote their clients. This raises an interesting issue about agencies becoming an active publishing entity.

If a PR agency ammasses thousands of followers or create a highly-ranked/influential blog, will it have the potential to become an informal media outlet itself? And if so, how will PR agencies manage this changing landscape? What do you think?


I initially evaluated PR firms listed on O’Dwyer’s list of top 100 independent PR firms. This list was based on worldwide fees for firms with major US operations. As such, some prominent firms, such as Ogilvy & Mather, Ketchum PR and others. An additional 13 firms, who had proactively added their information to the PR Firm Social Media Wiki, were added to the 2010 review, yielding a total of 113 firms.

* I looked at if the agency had a blog, Twitter profile, Facebook page (both group and/or fan), LinkedIn Group, YouTube Channel or Flickr photostream.

* I didn’t categorize the type of PR each firm did – I took the list at its word

* If the blog wasn’t listed on the home page or easily found via a sitemap, I assumed there was none

* I searched on the agency’s name or common abbreviation as presented on their website. Anything more exotic or too cute, would not have been found

* For Twitter, I used Twitter search or tried to manually type in what seemed like an appropriate Twitter handle. Number of followers were based on number the week of September 20, 2010.

* I used the group search functions found on Facebook and LinkedIn respectively. I was looking for those who had proactively created a group page or claimed their fan page on Facebook. As such, LinkedIn Company pages were not included.

3 thoughts on “Update on Trusting PR Agencies without a Social Media Presence with Your Social Media Programs

  • October 4, 2022 at 10:06

    Chris, I didn’t try to categorize the different agencies as many cross from B2B to B2C to government, with some positioning themselves as marketing agencies. Anecdotally, I would say the list was 40% tech, 40% consumer, and 20% other (healthcare, public affairs).

    As for individual participation, this was definitely a point of discussion last year. This is difficult to track and assess as staff changes quickly throughout the year. Hence, my thinking is if the organization is involved in social media then one can make the assumption that the staff is doing something on a certain level. Yes or no?

  • October 4, 2022 at 10:00

    Interesting research Cece, thanks for sharing. I’ve always believed strongly I have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. In fact, I’d zero in even more — if I was client, I’d want to know what socmed activities my account lead took part in, not the agency overall.

    I’m very sensitive to the time management issues of busy execs. So when I tell them they HAVE to make time for social media, I better show them I’m doing that as well.

    A lot of your top 100 are probably consumer focused — wonder how the percentage differs for b2b and b2g?

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