PR firms & ICT clients: Is social media and online presence key?


Social netwroking and internet concept crossword made of 3d cubesFor quite some time now, the question of whether it is important for PR firms with ICT clients to have and maintain a vibrant online presence via Facebook or Twitter has occupied my mind. So today, I decided to go online to search for relevant material around the topic.

And then I came across this article in the PRWeekly, with a special focus on Kenya, which quotes James Makau communications manager at CfC Stanbic Bank.

Makau tells PR Weekly that: ““The emergence of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook has been a game changer in the Kenyan market. PR practitioners have to keep pace with an increasingly tech-savvy audience, and a media landscape that many thought was still a decade away.”

In terms of major brands and sectors for business, the article states that “the most important sector for PR is telecommunications with brands like SafariCom, Airtel, Orange and YU leading the way.”

So to continue the discussion and take it further, let us now highlight the country’s PR agencies and the ICT – not just telecoms – clients or accounts which they handle. Below is a listing of some of Kenya’s PR agencies; their ICT clients and the agencies’ social media presence via Facebook or Twitter:

PR Agency FB & Twitter (1)

Nowadays, apart from sending out press releases to the targeted reporters (and bloggers), PR practitioners go a step further and post the release plus event photos on their social media pages.

Ginadin PR has perfected this practice and posts press releases as well as photos from client’s PR activities on its Facebook page as well as Twitter handle.

Another trend involves posting invites on social media, thereby enabling those who may not have checked their emails in good time before the event but are regular visitors to Facebook or Twitter to read it and attend the event.

Then there was this article in UK’s Journalism.co.uk titled “#AfricaAt50: How technology is changing journalism in Kenya”. The article states that one study in 2012 put Facebook use in Kenya at almost 2 million while another found that the country has Africa’s second most active Twitter community, behind South Africa.

In an article titled “PR Agencies and Social Media: 4 Tips to Power Social Brand Building” by Maanasi Rao, who works with Postion2 http://www.position2.com/ ,  notes that PR professionals today are using social media to either supplement or add to their existing strategies, signaling an evolution in the role of PR over the last few years.

“Public relations specialists were among the first few to understand the power of social media, making them leaders in the social space. Along with handling website content, more and more PR pros are responsible for their company’s and clients’ social media presence. The gradual shift towards, what industry experts call ‘the social media release’, indicates how the traditional long form press release is changing,” states Rao in the article published in article.

The Maanasi Rao article, which can be read here,  quotes David McCulloch, Cisco Systems PR director, who says: “The press release of the future will deliver its content in text, video, SMS, microblog and podcast form, to any choice of device, whenever the reader decides, and preferably it will be pre-corroborated and openly rated by multiple trusted sources.”

Findings from a joint study by the Transworld Advertising Agency Network and Worldcom Public Relations Group found that in 2010, 28% PR firms said that between 15-33% of their revenue came from social media while the figure grew by 44% in 2011.

The study indicates that, when compared to ad agencies, the PR industry is more effective in leveraging social media.

Still on the Maanasi article, it states that industry research firm IBIS World has predicted the factors that are likely to fuel the growth of PR firms in the coming years and the expected rate of growth.

Noting that PR firms are expected to grow at an average annualized rate of 5.7% to $12.8 billion from 2010-2015, adding that this spurt will be attributed to the increase in demand by “companies who want PR firms to handle daily interactions with consumers and the press on their social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.”

Add to this is the fact that the shift from traditional media to more direct media (social media) will result in PR firms specializing in or launching divisions devoted to blogs, social networking sites, mobile media and podcasts.

So, back to my question of whether it is important for PR firms to have a vibrant online presence via Facebook and Twitter when handling ICT accounts, the reality is that social media presence is crucial for all PR practitioners.