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PR agencies ‘need to embrace social media’

The head of a leading public relations agency has warned that the PR industry must exploit social media and other digital platforms in order to remain viable.

Tim Dyson of Next Fifteen Communications claims that many PR agencies do little to encourage public interaction via sites such as Twitter and Facebook, preferring instead to generate publicity via formal means such as official press releases, and to rely on traditional media.

The problem with this conventional approach, Dyson argues, is that it increasingly fails to engage with the public, whilst becoming less and less financially lucrative for the agencies concerned.

Dyson is particularly critical of PR agencies in the UK which, he says, ‘play it safe’, and are consequently falling behind agencies in the US and Asia where the ‘value’ of social media is better appreciated.

Using the slogan, ‘if you can’t share it, it’s less valuable’, Dyson argues that using social and digital media for ‘building communities’ around brands is the only way in which PR agencies can avoid ‘dying a pretty slow death’.

One Next Fifteen Communications PR campaign cited by Dyson for its successful use of social media was that for Coca-Cola, whereby pop band Maroon 5 recorded a song in 24 hours based on online voting.

The success of this and other digital campaigns has helped generate considerable profits for Next Fifteen Communications, with £7.5 million registered in July, representing a rise of 42% since January.

Looking to the future, Dyson is equally confident about the continuing value of social media, claiming that

‘Facebook has nowhere near peaked’

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  • James Crawford

    The sad thing is that this is the same problem that the PR industry was discussing five years ago. Most agencies will say they ‘do’ social media, but often the digital competency is only skin deep and not ingrained into strategy.

  • Mike McGrail

    Wow, what a newsflash. Perhaps change the date of this post to Nov 24th 2007 and it may be a little more pertinent. Mr Dyson is really making a statement here huh?