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March 03, 2009


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Jeremy Tuber

Quick and painless way for clients to cut through the clutter and often confusion.

I advise the same type of question when clients are looking to bring on a marketing/design firm - look at the firm's branding, marketing narrative and overall marketing strategy, if they're deficient in any of these areas why would you consider bringing them on as your marketing/design support?


Ted S

Seems like a great place to start to me... Asking just one question is a hard task but as a qualifer it makes great sense. Obviously an agency is going to have different social needs than your business especially if your mass market but the point is right on... They have to "get it" to "do it" right.

Ron Miller

If you aren't walking the walk, how can you possibly be talking the talk? It's just not possible to understand social media without participating directly and seeing what works and what doesn't. That an agency would suggest it could act as your social media expert without being part of social media is just beyond belief for me.

Ron Miller
by Ron Miller blog

pat furey

disagree..... how about "What have you done?"

David Kinard

David, I see your one question as a great place to start. Great for vetting out those who are not a product of their own product.

I've then gone on to ask an important next question -- this one ensures that they don't have a "package" that they try to clone on to every account. My question is to ask them to find out where my audience is at in the social media ecosystem.

Every agency touting their social media skills should have several tools at their disposal to offer up at least a preliminary report of where conversations are taking place. After all, I don't want to pay for a social media ning site if my target audience is only on Twitter.

-- David Kinard, PCM

Cece Salomon-Lee

I raised this similar point in a post (http://prmeetsmarketing.wordpress.com/2009/02/17/social-media-pr-agency/) I wrote in February. I initially looked at 100 PR firms per O'Dwyers 2007 independent firm list and wanted to see who had a social media presence and where. I didn't look at the quality. I just feel, as you do, that one should have a presence.

The conversation led me to then create a wiki page where PR firms can update their social media presence. Even with this, it's interesting to see who has or hasn't updated or added their listing. The wiki is at prfirmssocialmedia.pbwiki.com.

Michael Benidt

Your test would come in handy in evaluating almost anyone these days. The one that sticks out the most is web-optimization. Why is it that people don’t want their web optimizers to prove they are able to build traffic to their own site?

But PR strategists and web optimizers are not the only masquerade in town. How ‘bout leadership experts who’ve never led anything, career planners who’ve never heard of Indeed.com, business professors who scoff at Twitter – and the beat goes on. It’s not so much what have you done (a favorite in the speaking industry), but what are you doing right now. Nice post – short, sweet, true and effective.

Todd Defren

Good post, David. I'd also point prospective clients to look at the CONSISTENCY and LONGEVITY of those firms' socnet activities. Any firm could throw up a Facebook page, order everyone to get on Twitter, etc. but where is the evidence in a long-term commitment in that approach?

mike mcallen

I am a simple man who owns a production company producing corporate events/media and produces a podcast http://www.meetingspodcast.com The last couple of years I have spent trying to get my clients to build content for their internal meeting that can be shown and shared after the meetings and before to carry the messages before, thru and after the meeting. One client which due to budget reasons had to cut back attendance to some of the sales team that was suppose to attend. I then presented podcasting as an option which they liked. They then took the completed files (with music-intros and complete id3 tags) and they ended up on a server somewhere not to be shared at all. I don't want to step on my gatekeepers toes (meeting planners) but how do I convince them that social media tools work! I guess they will have to get on board soon. I just would love to help drive them to get more out of the great content we produce for them.......


That's the million dollar answer to the million dollar answer. No smoke or mirrors here. Perfect!

Jim Peake

Ask? Do they eat their own dog food? Spot on David.

David Meerman Scott

Thanks guys for such great comments. I notice that some of the people who commented run agencies that are VERY active in social media. Those are ones to hire.


I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Zane Safrit

The power of PR spin: That they can claim to be an expert on the resource having never used much less mastered it. And this one question punctures this balloon. Now, some PR agencies not only have a presence but can explain it, modify it, use it, apply it. And this one question gives you the answer.

Christine Perkett

Thanks David. I agree and think your advice is key - but I think the confusion lies in PR agencies thinking involvement in social media is just for their client work (and therefore if their clients wouldn't benefit, they don't think they need to know or understand social media). That's incorrect.

Even if an agency doesn't have any clients that would appreciate or benefit from social media campaigns, the agency itself should be involved- connecting with influencers, media, etc. - even (and maybe more importantly) for their own business development purposes.

That being said, we are very involved in social media and I'm happy to say we do meet your criteria above. Whew :) And, to Todd Defren's point above, we've been up and running with such initiatives for a few years now - so just as others are now signing on Twitter because it's the hot new thing, we're thinking of what's next to keep us ahead of the curve.

I just don't think that corporate America has caught on yet to why any of this matters - or why a PR agency needs to know social media. I am hoping they will follow your advice and recognize the innovators sooner rather than later.

Thanks for a great post.

Christine Perkett

Megan Enloe

I like the one question. It's also an excellent question for someone like me to ask when looking for a social media PR job. Weed out the companies that only say they are interested in social media but are truly anti-social old media at heart.

Vickie Jenkins

So very true. Sometimes clients want 'one-stop shopping,' and even though I have a web presence, including website, blog, Facebook and Twitter, I am no social media expert---I'm a media trainer, to prep clients for times when they're ready to go live for interviews. Now you've given me advice to pass along to my clients on how to find the experts in that space. Thanks!


Thanks for the article! My brother recommended me a new social media webpage for host your videos and make extra money. Check out www.vismomedia.com sounds nice. =)

Hugh Flax


Great piece of information.
The question is honest and direct.
Besides which I can Twitter and Facebook to see if I can find them. That should be a good test.

Thanks as always


Why look for a pr agency if you need a SoMe strategy to begin with?

Steven van Vessum

Good article! After SEO all the so called ‘guru’s’ now jump on the Social Media train.
These pointers give the online marketeers what they need to prepare themselves for the self declared guru’s!


Your test would come in handy in evaluating almost anyone these days. The one that sticks out the most is web-optimization. Why is it that people don’t want their web optimizers to prove they are able to build traffic to their own site?


This is exactly my approach when designing the business model of my marketing & PR firm. So many marketing and PR firms fail to do for themselves what they say they can do for others. I am in the beginning stages of development but I believe that establishing myself as an information resource as well as being an example are two of my greatest competitive advantages against my competition in Philadelphia.

Oliver Cheatham, CEO|CMO
sara|oliver, LLC

Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat

As more and more companies seek for help with social media marketing strategies, more and more agencies are professing to be experts in the space.

Steven M.

Another way is to just type in that firms name on facebook or twitter and see what comes up. Do they have a lot of friends or followers? A sleek look and image? If so they may be good.

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