Agency

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Last week we talked about the data-sharing challenges associated with internal company silos and issues around the ownership of digital channels. Click here to read the full Part 1 post.

We continue the discussion in Part 2 with some more gaps that could be encountered between client and agency, along with their possible solutions.

Lack of voice

One of the most challenging aspects can be developing a social media strategy when an internal mindset exists that social media is useful only as a sales and marketing tool.

The thought of doing anything fun or creative on social media can be daunting for executives because of a deep-seated belief that the brand must always be seen as serious and professional.

When companies are starting out with social media, employees might be hesitant to interact with the brand’s official presence on social media because they may feel it would be frowned upon.

The result of such a situation is an almost robotic, sales/marketing-oriented voice that talks at, not with, the online community.

Audiences react more positively to and are more likely to interact with brands that take a more balanced approach to the kind of posts they put on social media, including a look into the softer, more human side of the company: its employees.

What’s the solution?

Success on social media lies within changing a one-dimensional sales-oriented broadcast into a vibrant, two-way conversation between the brand and the wider online community.

The solution to this problem is two-pronged: first, identify the voice and identity of the brand – or brands – being represented. Case studies can be shown to demonstrate what similar brands are doing successfully in the digital space and the effect it has on building the reputation and awareness of the brand.

Secondly, once the voice of the brand has been established, the importance of developing an open communication environment among all employees becomes essential.

Building a community of employees who are confident enough to express their views and expert opinions is central to this idea. The boundaries are clearly defined, but they give enough scope for heightened levels of expression and interaction.

Through training sessions that highlight the company’s social media policy, employees can be incentivized and encouraged to become online brand ambassadors who are comfortable enough to interact with their company on social media and boost the visibility of their brand.

Vision

In situations where an agency is appointed to strategise digital PR for a group of companies, it can be challenging to bring the activities carried out by all the companies and brands within the group together under a common vision.

The agency might identify instances where work and effort is duplicated, messages are mixed, or where brands do not work to cross-promote and support their sister companies/brands towards achieving a common goal.

What’s the solution?

One of the most important tasks will be to identify the common corporate goals for the group, and then develop long-term strategies for the companies under the group umbrella towards achieving that end.

Using the common vision and strategy as a yardstick, work can then commence to develop a 12-month strategy for each company or brand in which Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are set and methods of calculating Return on Investment (ROI) on various types of activities are agreed.

Agencies must make sure that their digital PR strategies tie in with the groups’ other objectives and efforts, including those for sales, traditional PR & marketing.

Client-agency gaps can often occur at the beginning of a new project. Building bridges over them can be a tricky business, and while we will always respect the fact that nobody knows their business better than the client themselves, as an agency we know we are the specialists for the particular type of job that we were hired to perform.

Therefore, it is necessary to apply very logical and precise reasoning when advocating something we feel is essential towards achieving the ultimate goal.

Through continual dialogue and trust building it’s possible to find a compromise that is both acceptable to the client and also helps the agency to achieve what it originally set out to do from the initial pitch. Diplomacy is, after all, what working in communications is all about.