Why content marketing should be top of mind for owners of professional services firms

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Here are a couple of reality checks for owners and managers of professional services firms operating in today’s hyper-connected marketplace.

One, prospective clients are increasingly checking out you and your people online before committing to doing business with you (indeed, before they even put a call in to your office!).

If social media (indeed, the web generally) has done one thing, it has turned us into expert ‘hunters and gatherers’ of information. We’re out there doing our homework, checking you out online, asking questions of our social networks and forming our opinions as to whether or not we should put you on our ‘to-contact’ shortlist.

QUESTION: If we visited your website and social channels, what would we find? Would it add value to our decision-making process, or give us confidence your firm knew what it was talking about?

Secondly, the explosion of digital channels in recent years has brought with it a heck of a lot of noise. Your existing and potential clients are bombarded professionally and personally from every angle, not just from brands but also friends, family and their extended networks across multiple social channels.

Needless to say, many of the traditional communication methods (usually used to broadcast one-way promotional messages, I might add) are increasingly being filtered out by the intended target, rendering them way less effective than, say, five years ago.

QUESTION: Is your firm cutting through the noise with its communications and resonating with potential clients? 

All this suggests that professional services firms need to fundamentally reconsider the way they communicate with the marketplace. And by reconsider, I mean think seriously undertaking a thought leadership-based content marketing program as a way to increase visibility, grow influence and build brand authority.

 This article was written for the Authority Partners blog – READ IT NOW

Content marketing in Australia continues to grow (report)

Sixty-three per cent of Australian marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget during the next 12 months, according to the 3rd annual Content Marketing in Australia: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

However, marketers are still ‘learning the ropes’ when it comes to content marketing, with just under a third of respondents claiming their content efforts are effective.

The report, undertaken with the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA), represents findings from 251 for-profit marketers in Australia who responded to a mid-year survey; these marketers represented business-to-business (136 ), business-to-consumer (40), and 75 both B2B+B2C).

Here is an interview I recorded today with Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute, in which he extrapolates on the findings of the report, and what they mean for the Australian content marketing industry.

Key takeaways from the research:

  • Slightly fewer Australian marketers consider their companies effective at content marketing (33% last year vs. 29% this year). Interestingly, however, is that 44 per cent of those who have a documented content strategy believe their content marketing activity to be effective. (MY TAKE: Marketers who make the effort to develop a strategic plan are more likely to be successful at content marketing).
  • Only 20 per cent say their organisations are successful at tracking ROI of their content marketing. However having a documented content marketing strategy helps (33% of those who have one say they are successful at tracking ROI).
  • Compared with last year’s results, Australian marketers are using fewer content marketing tactics on average – 12 this year vs. 13 last year (MY TAKE: After trialling a number of tools, marketers are probably starting to focus a bit more).
  • As with last year, the top three tactics are social media content (other than blogs), articles on your website, and e-newsletters (MY TAKE: Good to see the ol’ e-newsletter still alive and kicking; articles on website could include a blog or online newsroom!). 
  • 63 per cent of Australian marketers said they plan to increase their content marketing budget during the next 12 months, a slight decrease from 69 per cent last year (interestingly though, 73 per cent of Australian marketers with a documented content marketing strategy plan to increase spending over next 12 months).

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT.

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Brand Quarterly Magazine announces its 50 Marketing Thought Leaders Over 50 List

50 Marketing Thought Leaders Over 50 list.

Brand Quarterly Magazine has just published its 50 Marketing Thought Leaders Over 50 list for 2014.

According to Brand Quarterly:

“Each of the Marketing Thought Leaders highlighted on this year’s list have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with fellow marketers; and have gained the respect of their peers through their words, actions and achievements, in print, online and in person. They are proof that age has little to do with ability; that you’re never too young OR too old, when you’ve got talent.”

There’s a bunch of smart and savvy marketing people on the list worth checking out, including quite a number I follow via their blogs and/or various social channels:

Check out the full 50 Marketing Thought Leaders Over 50 list.

Here’s a dedicated Twitter List so you can follow all 50 Marketing Thought Leaders on Twitter in the one hit (the fact that all 50 are on Twitter is telling, no?).

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How Jeff Bullas built a global personal brand through blogging and social media

Social Media Indicates World Wide Web And Blogging

Jeff Bullas is a blogger, author, strategist and speaker who helps companies and executives optimise their online presence with digital and social media marketing.

Jeff’s blog – JeffBullas.com – clocks up over four million page views a year; his Twitter following numbers over 276,000 and Forbes has listed him as a ‘Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer’.

From selling beds to blogging to millions

However, it wasn’t always that way; Jeff’s beginnings were very humble indeed – a former bedding retailer, he was broke and unemployed when he started his blogging journey five and a half years ago. But passion and persistence, coupled with a desire to learn and iterate along the way, has seen Jeff build an impressive global online platform that continues to provide him with unexpected opportunities on a regular basis.

In this interview on the REPUTATION REVOLUTION podcast, Jeff discusses how he has built his global personal brand using blogging and social media. It’s a great yarn!

So how did a former bedding retailer end up writing a blog that attracts a readership in its millions, building his brand on a global basis and thus sparking a wave of opportunities that otherwise would have been closed to him?

There was no ‘magic dust’ involved, Jeff just started (literally). When he began blogging five and a half years ago, did he know what he was doing? No, he was just following his curiosity and was keen to “start having conversations about social media … because it fascinated me”. No grandiose expectations, he was just interested in following his passion.

Sure, he knew the world was starting to change. Best-selling books by Tim Ferriss (The 4-Hour Work Week) and David Meerman Scott (The New Rules of Marketing and PR) lit the fire, while social media (particularly Facebook, which Jeff saw as the intersection of humanity and technology) really resonated with him.

But while starting a blog was quite a simple, sustained effort was required to ensure success.

At time of writing, Jeff had amassed 1200 articles on his blog, equating to in excess of a million words. For years he got up at 4:30 am to write and/or edit his blog with the goal of getting a post published every day by 8 am. The man is nothing if not relentless!

This attitude is something I see among many successful bloggers. “Done is better than perfect”, says Jeff. In other words, ensure your articles are good but don’t sweat it if they’re not perfect, otherwise you’ll never publish anything!

Given the size of his global platform, Jeff (below) is now in a position to invite people to guest post on his blog (and of course, they say yes because it helps them reach a massive new audience).

Jeff-Bullas

Some of the things we cover in this wide-ranging interview include:

  • Jeff’s blog posts are roughly 1000-1500 words long.  Long form content is “very attractive to Google” he says as it creates a lot of inbound links; when you become a resource, there’s much more demand for your content to be embedded in other people’s blog posts because they’re using you as a point of reference, and that’s when the magic starts happening.
  • Visuals are very important in blogging (as such, his posts each feature multiple images). Jeff employs a virtual assistant to help with the loading of blog posts including the visuals, although he still takes a hands-on approach with editing and optimising article headings for SEO purposes.
  • Two things you need to work on as a blogger: One is the content, the other is distribution. With Jeff, the latter is email, social media and optimising for search “which gives me search distribution”. Email and search are not given the credence they deserve, says Jeff. (53% of his traffic currently comes from search engines, but that’s a long term game he says, so this is where the persistence and consistency comes into it with long-form content).
  • Opportunities from blogging have included local and international speaking gigs (including Italy, Kuwait, Turkey, New Zealand, Finland); being invited to be on the board of a New Zealand tech startup – a crowd-sourced content platform called Shuttlerock, which recently signed up Lady Gaga as a client).
  • The importance of having an underlying mission or purpose (Jeff’s is helping people to succeed in business and life in a digital world).
  • Why telling stories are a powerful way to get your message across (however this also necessitates a willingness to be vulnerable – “you need to touch people’s hearts and minds, that’s where the art of storytelling becomes very powerful” – says Jeff).

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Who does Jeff keep an eye on in the online marketing and digital space?

Plus he keeps tabs on Upworthy and BuzzFeed in terms of the way they craft their headlines.

What tools does Jeff use on a day to day basis?

And a final word from the man himself?

“It continues to surprise me the power of great content and building your own platform and your own distribution to position yourself globally,” Jeff says.

* * * * * * * * *

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Two reasons why your company is now in the publishing business

publishing company

Content marketing might be one of the hot buzz phrases in business circles at the moment but the notion itself – that companies create relevant and interesting content that informs or empowers or entertains their customers – is not new.

Founder of the US-based Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi, often regales people with the story of John Deere Tractors, which first published a custom magazine for farmers way back in the late 1890s.

Heck, as a very young PR practitioner in the late 1980s, I spent considerable time producing hard-copy newsletters (remember them?) for my clients; several years later, I added video production to my kit bag, albeit they were horrendously expensive to make at the time.

Granted, a good proportion of the content I produced in those days was more about the clients themselves than relevant information for the intended audience, but nonetheless, companies have always created and distributed multimedia content, albeit in ways that were less strategic than today.

So, why all of a sudden is the phrase ‘content marketing’ on everyone’s lips? Why are smart companies becoming bona fide publishers in their own right, with some even employing journalists to seek out and tell stories from within company walls?

There are two core drivers that stand out for me.


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1. People’s behaviours have changed

More and more as consumers we’re eschewing paid-for advertising in favour of doing our own research via the internet, searching for information on Google and seeking tips and advice from our personal networks via social media.

Not only are we ignoring advertising and corporate spin en masse – indeed, we are openly derisive of it much of the time – we’re more than happy to take in information from credible sources such as internal company experts or external independent authorities, whether it’s in the form of written blog posts, audio or video content, or visual media such as an infographic.

Yes, we also look to traditional media as a source of information, but make no mistake, we’re more than happy to play the content field. Not only has this broadened our view, but it makes one-way advertising and corporate spin look frivolous and seriously lacking in substance.

2.  The barriers to entry no longer exist

The second major shift has been the emergence of new media and social networking technologies that allow anyone – and yes, I mean anyone (with a computer or smartphone device plus internet connection) – to create their own multimedia content and publish it in real-time on the social web.

Not only that, but Google today is ruthlessly efficient at indexing fresh content such as blog posts or YouTube videos; in other words, the content you produce today (often at zero cost) is available for the world to find via Google as good as instantly. This, of course, has levelled the playing field with all the subtlety of a virtual atomic bomb.

The publishing business for companies used to be quite expensive and cumbersome; you’d have to write copy for your corporate magazine or newsletter, get it type-set, have it printed and then distribute the damn thing. This generally took months to do. And worse, most of the time corporate publications were nothing more than chest-beating exercises, just another way in which companies banged on about how great they (thought) they were.

Of course, pump out ‘me-me-me’-type information today and you’ll be totally and utterly ignored, if not lambasted privately (on Facebook) or publicly (on Twitter). The world doesn’t need any more corporate chest-beating adding to the tsunami of ‘white noise’ that washes over us daily.

However, by understanding your audience, by creating useful content specifically for them (and relevant to your business) – just as a real publisher would do – then you’re adding genuine value that will earn the attention (and maybe eventually respect) of potential customers and influencers.

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Importantly, you don’t have to simply write articles to put on your website or post to your blog; today it’s ridiculously simple (and free, or ultra-cheap) to create and distribute video via YouTube; producing audio content also gives companies an excellent medium through which to deliver real-time information to customers. And that’s not even taking into account other content marketing tactics such as ebooks, white papers, infographics and webinars!

You just need to know why you’re doing what you’re doing, experiment a bit and measure where needed … oh, and don’t forget to always approach your content marketing and social media efforts with the utmost openness, humility and enthusiasm.

So, in a world where smart companies are grabbing the opportunity to produce content for their customers, adding value to their lives by providing genuine utility without the expectation of anything in return, are you running the risk of being seen as yesterday’s news?

THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN SMART COMPANY

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Introducing AUTHORITY PARTNERS: Building visibility, influence and trust through thought leadership

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I’m pleased to announce the launch of my new venture – a consulting business named AUTHORITY PARTNERS.

At Authority Partners, we have one goal:  To help companies, organisations and individuals build visibility, influence and trust through the development and execution of strategic thought leadership marketing programs.

We do this through the use of content marketing and social communications to position business professionals and company experts as influencers and thought leaders in their industry.

In addition to creating compelling thought leadership content for our clients’ own channels, we also place it with industry publications and relevant online news sites with a view to extending reach and reputation.

Why Authority Partners? Why now?

A few reasons.

As anyone who reads this blog knows only too well, I’m neck deep into social media and content marketing (and have been since 2007). I just love the fact that individuals and companies can publish (globally, and in real time) interesting, useful and thought-provoking content that helps others and builds their reputation at the same time.

LOGO authority partners

However, while people (companies and individuals) are jumping on to the content marketing bandwagon making it a very squishy place to be right now, I’m attempting to (a) differentiate my offering by staking out a portion of ‘social content’ territory that, to me, seems wholly under-serviced at the moment, and (b) focus on the area of content marketing which, with my PR consulting background, is 110% up my professional alley (indeed, it’s where I currently do the bulk of my consulting work anyway).

The discipline of content marketing is evolving at an incredible rate.

There are so many moving parts to it and much of the focus tends to be on what I call ‘utility-based content’ – that is, content that is useful, relevant and helpful and (generally) is designed to take consumers down a path often referred to as the ‘sales funnel’. I talk about this often in presentations and teach it in my PR Warrior Content Marketing Bootcamps.

However, there’s also what I like to call ‘thought leadership content’ – that is, content designed to build a company or individual’s reputation and influence; when implemented strategically and in concert with social and traditional media, it can help grow the level of trust people have in a particular brand. In today’s social marketplace, that’s a serious competitive advantage for some organisations (especially professional services and those in the B2B arena); importantly, however, trust needs to be earned over time – you cannot buy a rock-solid, respected reputation with a one-off advertising campaign!

The other thing with thought leadership content – it’s not necessarily helpful; indeed, it may be thought provoking – a ‘poke in the eye’, so to speak – it may challenge a person’s views and get them thinking in a different way about a particular subject, topic or issue.

So that’s where Authority Partners comes in.

We develop and execute strategic content-driven thought leadership programs designed to build a person or company’s reputation over a period of time.

It’s not for everybody. If your organisation lacks heart, depth (intellectual horsepower) and a wherewithal to participate actively on social media, then a thought leadership program is probably not right for you. Social media can be taught, but passion, ideas and expertise (and a willingness to share those ideas and that expertise, relentlessly and with passion) need to be ever-present.

what is content marketing

What services does Authority Partners offer?

  • CONSULTING - We develop and execute content-driven thought leadership programs for business professionals and subject matter experts.
  • WORKSHOPS - We run workshops for company experts, leaders and business professionals to develop the skills required to build a strategic thought leadership positioning in the marketplace.
  • SPEAKING – Authority Partners represents my good self (and in the long run, potentially others) for keynote presentations at conferences, seminars and business events on topics focused around around content marketing and thought leadership.

Who does Authority Partners work for?

If experience is any guide, over the past few years I’ve been advising progressive-thinking, motivated professionals (individually, or working for their own or someone else’s business) who are keen to raise their profile by (a) publishing content that educates, informs and empowers a specific target audience, and (b) participating on social media with a view to connecting with people and building relationships.

This will continue. I want to work with organisations run by savvy business professionals and help them build their reputation, humanise their business and connect more emotionally and intellectually with the marketplace and community in which they operate.

If you know of a company (or individual) who might benefit from such a service, please feel free to let them know about what we do here at Authority Partners. We’re based in Richmond, and I can be contacted on 0412 368 683. Thanks!

FURTHER READING:

AUDIO ON DEMAND: 

The power of writing with an ‘undiluted voice’ (interview with Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes)

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Ann Handley is all about empowering people to become better writers in a marketing context.

Ann (above) is the Chief Content Officer of the 40-person education and training business Marketing Profs and the co-author (along with CC Chapman) of Content Rules, one of the early ‘bibles’ of this thing we call content marketing. She is also a columnist for Entrepreneur magazine, a LinkedIn Influencer and keynote speaker.

Ann’s new book is called Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content. Leading blogger and best-selling author Jay Baer says that Ann’s book ”should be included with every keyboard sold, like a combo pack of communication clarity”.

“The best marketers are also great writers” Ann says in this chat we recorded for the Reputation Revolution podcast.

In the interview we cover:

  • How to find your own voice when writing (recognising the fact that being a good writer is more about habit than art – “you just need to write … to communicate with your audience”). everybody-writes
  • Thought leaders who Ann admires: Doug Kessler (Velocity UK) – “He does have a very strong voice”; and Mitch Joel, author of the book (and blog) called Six Pixels of Separation (“He has a very, very specific point of view”). Ann says both Doug and Mitch write with what she calls “an undiluted voice”.
  • The importance of data in gaining insights that can in turn help inform your content efforts.
  • Why it’s important to tell stories from the perspective of your customers.
  • The word Ann is “almost allergic” to (it’s authenticity – “what does it actually mean?”).
  • How Ann manages her two Twitter handles – @MarketingProfs (business account with some 260,000 followers on which Ann is “personable but not personal”) plus her personal @annhandley account (nearly 9000 followers).
  • How much should thought leaders ‘give away’ through content in terms of their knowledge and expertise (“I never worry about giving things away” says Ann).
  • The concept of ‘wings and roots’ when it comes to content creation.


Here are some tips and quotes from Ann: 

  • “I wanted to create a guide that would help marketers become better writers because … good writing is a mirror of good, clear thinking…”
  • “There’s a lot of noise out there and so we have to be very direct in what we’re trying to say, and say it with a little bit of style … with a unique voice in an innovative way.”
  • “Don’t dilute your words, have a strong point of view.”
  • “Data can really help you hone in on what’s important and what you should focus on.”
  • The best storytellers really make the customer the hero of their stories so they’re always thinking about things from their customers’ point of view.”
  • “Don’t talk about what you do but talk about what you do for others.”
  • “I’m always generous in my sharing because I feel like…what I give I get back ten-fold.”
  • “Grammar problems don’t really bother me as much as people who write with this sort of boring, pedestrian, predictable point of view.”
  • “If you don’t have video as part of your content strategy, then you should…it’s that powerful and it’s that easy and really that engaging when it’s done well.”
  • “One of the best reasons to blog is just because it lends a depth of clarity that I think is really hard to get otherwise.”

CONNECT WITH ANN ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

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* PHOTO SOURCED FROM ANNHANDLEY.COM/PRESS

A world gone social with business leadership experts, Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt

Desk with Social Media and Connection Concept

Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt are authors of the new book – ‘A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive- plus they run a multi-author leadership blog called Switch & Shift, which attracts close to a million readers a year.

In this episode of the REPUTATION REVOLUTION podcast, Ted and Mark chat on how leadership and management styles honed during the Industrial Age need to transition to today’s social era in which listening, empathy and collaboration are key.

They riff on the importance of being human in business today; why ‘displaying your character’ is a key to success in social media; and how they’ve grown their respective followings on Twitter (Mark has 33,000 followers; Ted has 400,000). And finally, we discuss the question posed by Ted and Mark in their book: “Are experts obsolete”?

Here are some quotes from the interview:

  • On how Ted and Mark have grown their blog to one million readers: “100 per cent social media.”
  • “Our character is revealed whether we’re part of that process or not … if we choose not to be on social, then that says one thing about us.”
  • On ‘mutuality’ (hat-tip Kare Anderson): “How are we both going to benefit from this relationship, from discussion, from this meeting?”
  • “What people demand in this social age is we demand leaders who are ambassadors of their brand; when a brand is not represented on social, we don’t trust it as much, we don’t engage with the product as much.”

About ‘A World Gone Social’ order_stack

The business world has entered a new era—one in which social media has fundamentally changed the way companies innovate, market, scale, build teams, and serve customers. Welcome to the Social Age. Containing stories, analysis of real-world scenarios, and indispensable guidance, A World Gone Social provides the tools you need to build a socially enabled team that puts the customer experience first. You’ll discover what it means to create an “OPEN” network of partners, collaborators—even competitors. And you’ll learn why nimble and collaborative organizations will ultimately outlive their Industrial Age competition.

About Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt 

yELCvZaj_400x400Mark Babbitt is CEO of YouTern, a community that enables those in career transition – from college students to workforce veterans – become highly employable by connecting them to high-impact internships, mentors and contemporary career advice. Follow Mark on Twitter – @MarkSBabbitt.

ted_coineTed Coiné is a business expert referenced by Forbes, Inc., SAP Business Innovation and Huffington Post for his leadership, customer experience and social media influence. He is a keynote speaker and chairman and founder of SwitchandShift.com. Follow Ted on Twitter – @tedcoine.

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Why showing respect and adding value are key to winning trust in today’s social marketplace

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The public’s high-velocity adoption of all things social on the web should be ringing alarm bells in the upper echelons of all businesses, but particularly larger organisations with entrenched beliefs around ‘controlling the message’ and a track record of intrusive, self-centred marketing.

The question is not whether you should be on Twitter or Facebook; it’s way deeper and more far-reaching than that.

This is not an article about new business models or a company’s ability to operate in an agile manner, that’s not my specialty (although there seems to be a correlation between progressive agile companies and their judicious use of new media technologies to become closer to, and more relevant with, their customers).

The area I focus on revolves around reputation and brand, and the role your organisation plays in the community in which it operates; it’s about the way you market your business and communicate with your constituents, not just today but into the future. But ultimately, it’s about relevancy and respect, about becoming a ‘connected brand’ in a real-time social marketplace that’s intensely competitive, hyper-networked, super-busy and information overloaded.

Lack of trust hurts brands

Traditional PR wisdom dictates you eke out information on your terms, when it suits you; information that’s all about you and your products and services using words laden with jargon and polished to such an extent they’re rendered all but indecipherable. This does not build trust; and we know that lack of trust hurts brands.

Traditional marketing wisdom revolves around intruding on people, hitting them with a barrage of one-way sales messages – buy this product, sign up for this service, become a member today, vote for me! This does not buy trust either.

I’m all for promoting one’s products and services – hey, I’m in marketing communications after all – but it’s the frequency and context that concerns me.

Yes, to a degree it made sense in the industrial age, but it doesn’t today.  Today, we need to earn the right to pitch. Today, companies need to be respectful of their customers, to contribute to their lives in ways that are relevant and meaningful. Today, it’s more important than ever to deliver value over and above your products and services.

Earn the attention of people

Social content marketing authority and author Gary Vaynerchuk has named his most recent book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook to reflect this very philosophy. It’s a metaphor for marketing in today’s social age: Give, give, give (value), ask. In other words, give value again and again and again before asking for the sale (or call to action).

Vaynerchuk is all about the hustle and by no means is he backwards when it comes to pitching and selling, but he’s realised the jig is up and delivering value through content and social interaction forms the basis of good marketing today.

We live in the ‘connection economy’ where people’s attention is one of their most precious, albeit diminishing, assets.

Is your organisation earning the attention of people by being interesting, relevant, useful, helpful … thought provoking?

Rather than spraying ‘calls to action’ into the ether via every media ‘orifice’ – messaging that, by the way, people are probably ignoring – would your brand be better served if your company created compelling, high-quality multimedia content that educates, informs, empowers or entertains people?

Rather than be a faceless corporation, why not leverage the power of social technologies to connect with your constituents, to let them inside the walls of your enterprise and meet your employees? Why not put your people front and centre, and empower them to share knowledge and information that will add value to the lives of your customers?

And where do you, as a business leader, fit into all of this?

Are you visible, accessible, open and connected?

Are you publicly generous with your knowledge and ideas?

Are you collaborative and socially connected?

The social age is now well and truly upon us. The question is: Is there a place in it for you and the company you lead?

 

Digital services lead the way as Australian PR firms invest in growth (REPORT)

 PR in Australia Report

Australia’s public relations consulting industry seems to be in pretty healthy shape if a new survey is any indication. 

The annual Public Relations Institute of Australia’s (PRIA) consulting sector benchmark study was conducted by Galaxy Research and used financial and operations data submitted by consultancy owners and chief executives.

The report, which has run for 14 consecutive years, reveals that most firms predict strong growth in the year ahead; tellingly, PR firms are investing heavily in digital services, providing an indication as to where they think future growth will come from.

Key highlights from the report include:

  • 83 per cent of PR businesses forecast growth in 2015
  • Average monthly client retainers now exceed $12,400
  • 42 per cent of businesses making strategic investments in digital services
  • Hiring intentions on the rise for all consulting roles

According to the survey, which included 48 consultancies nationally, PR consulting activities grew an average of two per cent in 2014, while one third of respondents reported average annual revenue growth of 19 per cent. 

PRIA report

 

Year-on-year results

According to the PRIA, 73 per cent of consultancies submitting data this year also participated last year, thus enabling year-on-year trends to be tracked and tested with a high degree of confidence.

“Public relations consultancies are investing actively in their future,” says Adam Benson, National Chair of the PRIA’s Registered Consultancies Group (RCG).

“More consultancies plan to hire staff this year than last year, with hiring intentions strong at every level.  Investments in digital services are also high on the agenda.  42 per cent are planning a significant expansion of their digital offering, while 40 per cent already have dedicated digital services staff in place.

“Average monthly client retainers rose 15 per cent and are now approaching $12,500. However, the study reports a growing dependency on fewer, larger clients in many consultancies.  This concentration of revenue sources increases long-term structural risk in the industry,” says Adam.

“Most business owners and operators are bullish about 2015. 83 per cent predict revenue growth of 14 per cent, with smaller consultancies targeting growth of 35% or more. We’ve not seen targets this high since the GFC.”

Excellent shape

“This year’s study shows an industry in excellent shape. Bad debt is at a record low. Confidence is high. Business owners and operators are investing proactively in new services for the future. 

“In the year ahead, the greatest challenge will be to manage these investments prudently and, as much as possible, and ensure they reduce dependency on clusters of large clients,” Adam said.

 

SOURCE: Information for this article was sourced from a PRIA media statement