Why Successful PR Agencies Invest In PR Tech

MeasurementQuoteIt wasn’t too long ago that many people were declaring “PR is Dead,” mostly in response to the rise of social media and the ease with which anyone could now promote themselves. In 2011, a Forbes contributor used the sentiment as a headline, and in 2015 “Trust Me, PR is Dead,” was the provocative title of a new book by Robert Phillips.

We believe PR is anything but dead and in fact, has been reborn and is a more necessary and exciting discipline than ever. Chobani‘s CMO was recently quoted as saying that PR is becoming “increasingly vital” in an article by AdAge titled “How Public Relations is Earning Its Place in 2016.”

As PR becomes vital again, so too does better analysis of its ROI. Brands now know that they can in fact “measure PR” and the discipline of data-driven reporting is expected. The good news for PR agencies it that there are many tools to help deliver such reports with deeper insights in less time.

One issue that we still see with agencies is their hesitance to invest in software unless they can bill it back to the client. Having been on the agency side myself for nearly 20 years, I totally understand the desire to do so. But today’s forward-thinking PR agencies will invest in good PR tech - and especially PR analytics or measurement tools - whether or not their clients cover the costs. Here are a few reasons why:

  • While investing in technology that can’t be billed back to a client may eat into profits in the short term, it is a smart investment in the long term, making an agency more profitable through more retained clients who have no doubts about the agency’s results and impact.
  • An agency that demonstrates data analysis and non-biased measurement strategies as part of its core offerings is much more attractive to prospective clients than one that does not.
  • Answering questions before a client has to ask is a recipe for a long and fruitful client/agency relationship. (I.E., showcasing ROI before a client has to ask “so what is PR really doing for us?”)
  • Quality PR tech tools can help an agency constantly improve. Whether in processes or outcomes, there’s always room for improvement and any agency that doesn’t think so will be surpassed by hungrier, data-driven competitors.
  • PR tech can save agencies time and resources in pulling data and analyzing it. This time can instead be spent doing the actual PR work and getting better results. Take, for example, an agency we recently began working with. Before us, they were still using Google alerts and Excel spreadsheets. While functional, this practice took a good deal of their time away from executing on campaigns.
  • With PR tech tools it is easier than ever to pull together awards nominations or new business presentations - no more scrambling to create a case study or crunch numbers to meet requirements. A good analysis tool has this data at your fingertips, every day.
  • Good technology can help agencies deliver higher quality PR campaigns by automating previously manually-driven tasks, identifying patterns of success (so you can repeat what works and pivot from what doesn’t) or even by aligning with industry standards and helping agencies adhere to them, such as the Barcelona Principles.
  • Using PR tech to gather data often goes hand in hand with a data analysis service team that can help agencies - especially those without a lot of resources - continually improve their campaign strategies based on solid data, instead of experience hunches.

We’ve been in the shoes of our PR agency customers for many years, so our team understands the myriad of challenges - and amazing opportunities - facing today’s PR teams. We continue to build a platform to help PR executives take advantage of data, improve their outcomes, focus on the most important tasks, and turn PR into a profit center (instead of a cost center) in the eyes of clients by proving ROI. There are many other tools that can help when it comes to PR, including CRM platforms to improve team-wide media results, manage team communications, and automate common tasks. There are content and influencer platforms to help PR teams get more done and better understand and reach influencers, and many more. We suggest checking out PRStack to find a variety of tools - from PR analytics to influencer and community relations and more.

The PR agency of the future will research and invest in a variety of these tools whether or not they can bill them back to the client. That’s a smart strategy for long term viability.

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