The majority of companies in Britain want to see more open and transparent services delivered by digital PR agencies, and they also want a guarantee that they’re getting a solid result on their spend, a new poll suggests.
An overwhelming majority of respondents to the survey, commissioned by Reachology and carried out by a national polling service in early May, expressed dissatisfaction with online PR agencies they had signed up with.
Digital PR is increasingly gaining prominence over the more traditional form of the communications discipline as audiences have migrated from printed publications and are now consuming digital media in higher numbers. Companies are therefore allocating greater amounts of their marketing spend to digital PR, or ditching traditional PR altogether.
Seeking results from digital PR
Asked if they would be more inclined to use a digital PR agency that gave some kind of guarantee of performance and results, those who took part in the poll — UK decision-makers working in the areas of business development, sales, marketing, PR and advertising — 44% said yes, 40% said they might and just 15% said no.
Both digital and traditional PR can be difficult to track, in terms of exposure and return on investment. Agencies may often give promises of media coverage they aim to secure for clients, only to end up with little to none at the end of a months-long campaign.
As for how the 362 business respondents felt about working with a digital PR agency they had hired, the majority, 54%, said it was nothing special while 32% believed it was money down the drain because the agency failed to deliver what they had promised. Only 14% expressed the view that it had been a positive experience and the results were what they had wanted — representing a challenge to digital PR agencies to do more for clients.
A desire for brand coverage, higher website traffic
Although digital PR may still be relatively new and not entirely understood by some firms and their executives, the Reachology survey found that most who took part, 48%, understood the difference between digital and traditional PR, 34% had some idea of what it’s about, 13% didn’t really know anything about digital PR and 5% had no idea at all.
Weighing up the performance of a digital PR agency they had worked with, 35% said they had received reports that informed them about activity, 32% agreed that it was “all a bit grey” and they didn’t know what their agency was up to, 25% were in the dark and 8% said it was “impossible to know what was going on”.
Acquiring links to their websites in online media coverage was “somewhat important” for 43% of respondents and “vital” for 22%, while respondents’ overall goal with digital PR was, equally, brand coverage and more website traffic — both at 40% of those who answered.
Reachology PR Strategy Director Nick Sadler said the results of the survey showed companies wanted higher levels of transparency and results for digital PR services that could be properly measured.
“With any service investment, firms will have certain objectives and want to know they’re getting a return on their investment; otherwise, efforts are a waste of time, and money,” he said.
“We wanted to make sure that all clients have confidence in the results we achieve and their benefit, and that’s why we’ve developed our own measuring systems to track coverage: Q-Flux and ReachScore. We feel that tools like these provide not only clarity and reassurance but also the measurability that companies need when they appoint a digital PR agency.
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