This blog post from my boss, Stuart Bruce, inspired me to write this.
We both work at Wolfstar Consultancy, a public relations and social media agency consultancy. Here’s the main point of Stuart’s article:
“I definitely don’t want to be an online PR expert, or a social media expert or a digital content expert or anything similar. They are all far too narrow a discipline. I want to be recognised as a public relations thought leader and not a social media thought leader.”
Before joining Wolfstar I worked at an integrated agency called Public. Our industry would class Public as having a traditional or mainstream PR function. But even though that was often what we provided, it was far from the truth. In fact the majority of our PR campaigns in recent years were delivered via blogger outreach or social media.
We knew that the most effective way to communicate and engage with the customers of our food and grocery brands was to go directly to them via social networks. And it worked. Our PR function had naturally progressed to embrace online and social, just like all good comms agencies in recent years.
Since moving to Wolfstar, a agency consultancy classed as a social media specialist, really little has changed in the way I operate. Rather than speaking to journalists about food products, I’m speaking to bloggers about phone apps. The content is different but the technique, minus a few clever social modernised media tricks (©Wolfstar Consultancy), is still pretty much the same.
I still need to find a great story to sell in (even now I haven’t learnt how to polish a t***). It’s just that the medium and the contacts book has had to extend online.
And anyway, I’m still speaking to traditional media. We’ve already set up various projects with tabloid newspapers and men’s lifestyle and health magazines. It’s just now that we work to ensure that these mediums push consumers back into the online space where we can communicate with them directly.
To sum up, I’ve gone from a traditional agency to a social media agency consultancy and I’m practicing just as much mainstream PR at the latter.
You see, good comms is all about the big picture. It’s not just about the medium. It’s about how best you can make the different mediums work together to achieve your results.
But here endeth the lecture because, as much as I’d like to say that I’m a master of all trades, the truth is that in reality I’m pretty much just a Jack. When it comes to ‘all trades’ anyway.
I have serious expertise in some parts of my work but, and I have to be honest here, I also fall shorter than a short thing in others.
And here’s the point. I should embrace that.
Haven’t we been telling our clients for years that a point of difference is a good thing? Agencies and consultants need to distinguish themselves. Isn’t it far better to set yourself apart than disappear into the crowd?
At a recent new business meeting the client – a senior marketeer at a household name dept store – seriously loved the fact that Wolfstar was an expert in social.
He wanted to turn to experts to achieve his goals. He didn’t want to farm everything out to someone that could do everything, just in case they couldn’t really do everything.
And maybe he’s right. Maybe it’s best for the client that we don’t do the whole job. Why save some pennies to stay under one roof with one supplier when the job could be absolutely nailed by bringing in a team of experts.
I’m proud to say that I work for a social media agency. To say that I understand more about that part of the mix than any other. I’m an important cog in a seriously good wheel.
When I speak to other PRs from mainstream background I’m often confronted with cynicism on social. But explain the rationale behind why social works and how it enhances the customer brand experience, more often than not those arguments are quickly dismissed.
I agree with Stuart that you don’t want to be put into a specific box or pigeon holed into a silo (is that possible?) but at the same time I have to question whether that is really such a bad thing.
If being a master of social media is what makes you stand out then isn’t that what you should be?
Better that, than being just another Jack.
< Strikethrough edits courtesy of @stuartbruce >