4 Musts for Any Agency Offering Social Media


Lots of small and medium sized businesses are spending a lot of time on social media because they understand its potential. They typically fall into three categories: doing well at it and content to keep it going, doing well at it but ready to outsource it, and don’t know what they’re doing and want real help.

In many cases, it may make sense for these people to outsource their social media needs to the same agencies handling their public relations and other marketing needs. As a PR professional, you already know what’s going on within the client’s business, what their overall goals are, and how to get them in front of their ideal audience.

I’ve seen PR agencies and marketing agencies do some things right and some things wrong when providing social media services to clients. I’m here to share my insights so you can add social media to your service offerings without the risk of failing your client or spending all of your time on social.

Know what’s on the menu.
Before you offer social media services to your clients, you should know the different ways that you can “slice” social media. Some clients might want full social media management that covers content creation, audience engagement, inbox monitoring/customer service and ad buys. But you may choose not to offer the whole enchilada. You may decide it only makes sense to provide prewritten social media posts that the client can schedule to accompany a public relations campaign you’re managing more fully for them.

If you break it down, you can offer clients:

Content calendar: This can mean different things to different people, so be sure to define it for within your own agency and be clear about its meaning to clients. It might mean a simple list of weekly themes they should follow, a yearly calendar that outlines several campaigns, or a day-by-day list of pre-written tweets, posts and updates.

Scheduling: This is simply the scheduling of social media posts to be sent at a predetermined time from within a tool such as Hootsuite. If the client insists on approving the prewritten content each week, you may want the client to handle scheduling so that any delays in approval do not affect your ability to schedule the updates to go out on time.

Engagement/Audience growth: This is the daily maintenance of the client’s platforms and real-time interaction with audiences. This includes following those who follow the client’s competitors to grow their own following and reposting and liking content from other users to get their attention. Related to this is customer service or inbox monitoring wherein you keep an eye on the social media messaging inboxes to keep track of any concerns customers have with your client’s business. You might answer these customer concerns if you’re equipped to do so or to quickly notify the client of messages that require their attention.

Ad buys: Do you want responsibility to creating ad campaigns to reach new followers, drive traffic to the client’s website, or boost posts on Facebook? How about sponsoring tweets on Twitter or posts on Instagram? This might include the creation of graphics that won’t get rejected by Facebook and reporting the results to the client.

Reporting: Whatever social media services you offer, you’ll want a system for reporting analytics so they can track progress on social media. Social media managers do reporting in different ways. Hootsuite has built-in analytics tools, Facebook has pretty advanced analytics in its Page management system, and even Twitter lets you track the reach of your tweets. There are plenty of others tools you can use. Some clients will only care about their number of followers going up while others will want to know what messages are outperforming others.

Get an ally in the client’s office.
Inevitably, there will be “fires.” You’ve seen it time and again with media placements and other PR elements: the client’s name was misspelled or there was a word missing from their quote and they want you to fix it RIGHT NOW! Well, it happens with social media too. The client might notice a word misspelled or a missing period and want the tweet or post edited or deleted right this very second. Now, you’re busy. While PR pros pride themselves on being well-caffeinated and quick to respond, it just isn’t always possible. The best thing to do to prevent client frustrations in this situation is to ask them up front to appoint someone on their own team that you can train to be responsive in an “emergency.” Then teach them the basics of editing or deleting. You might even make it super clear by giving them a handy tipsheet they can keep nearby that tells them if a post on a platform is able to be edited or must be deleted, etc.

Keep PR & social media on the same page.
If you can’t have the account executive that’s already handling the client’s PR do their social media (some of your account execs won’t be comfortable in that role or have the bandwidth to take it on), make sure that the person managing their social media has really easy access to the account exec handling PR. This is especially important when your clients have had your agency handle their PR for a long time and are just now handing over social media. Your account exec likely already knows what’s going on inside the client’s company or knows how to get that info out of the client. The person in charge of their social media needs that information too. While social media can consist largely of news aggregation and other forms of content that aren’t breaking news about the company, their social media will feel naked without such updates from within the company.

Feel free to give the client homework.
Don’t feel like because you’re taking money from the client to manage their social media that it should be entirely off their plate(s). You might ask that clients email you articles you can share from their feeds, share updates from the company page to their personal pages, or upload images in real-time from major events they’re participating in (or texting those images to you so you can upload them).

There’s a lot to consider when you’re thinking of or starting to offer social media services to clients. This really is just a brief list of the things I’ve seen other agencies mess up.

Rosella LaFevre is a marketing consultant helping solo entrepreneurs, small businesses and C-level executives with marketing strategy, public relations/thought leadership and social media. She’s also a business and marketing coach helping entrepreneurs do more good and make more money. If you want an outsider to consult on your agency’s approach to social media for clients, schedule a consultation here.

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PPRA Content Marketing Luncheon Recap


The panel from left to right: Dave Armon, Chief Executive Officer of Brand.com, Kim Harmsen, Vice President of Gregory FCA and Joshua Palau, Senior Director of Digital Communications and Social Media at Comcast.

The worlds of earned and paid media are colliding and we have to brace ourselves for impact by learning the value of tactics like native advertising, content marketing and sponsored content. At the latest PPRA luncheon, “WARNING: Communication Turbulence Ahead. Content May Shift” experts from Brand.com, Comcast and Gregory FCA spoke on the topic.

Gregg Feistman, professor at Temple University with more than 30 years of public relations experience, moderated the conversation.

Kim Harmsen, Vice President of Gregory FCA, started off the set of three presentations with a look at the content marketing efforts her agency employs for its client, Penn Mutual.  Harmsen highlighted the different areas that Gregory FCA focuses on for Penn Mutual including social media, a blog and press releases. Her team focuses on communicating a corporate narrative across these channels while displacing myths about life insurance. Examples of these myths are that millennials aren’t interested in purchasing life insurance and that the field is not female-friendly. The team at Gregory FCA also works to have Penn Mutual’s content published elsewhere, like insurance trades.

Dave Armon, CEO of Brand.com, delved into how his company works with both brands and publishers to create a harmony where the two intersect. He mentioned examples like Help A Reporter Out and ProfNet as well as an instance where Netflix bought a pull out spread in the New York Times to advertise Orange is the New Black using the advertorial method. Armon spoke on the importance of labeling sponsored content. Many consumers may feel deceived if they realize the words they are reading from a publication were paid to be placed there. However, studies show that as long as the content is labeled honestly and it reads well, individuals will view it as a credible source.

Joshua Palau, Senior Director of Digital Communications and Social Media at Comcast, showed the luncheon group the website that Comcast uses to create and share its own content. Palau noted how it can be difficult to get the right messages and voice across through third party media outlets, so websites like that are crucial for a brand. He also pointed out how even Google is trying to blur the line between paid and organic reach by trying to get users to click on advertised content at the top of their search feeds. Comcast’s website is the place that outlets like the Verge and Tech Crunch are going to get news for their own sites, showing how useful brand journalism has become for all involved.


  • Use content marketing to communicate your narrative
  • Clearly label sponsored content to maintain honesty and credibility
  • Publishers are starved for revenue, they are more than open to working with brands

How do you see the intersection of earned and paid media impacting the field of public relations? Share your thoughts about the pros and cons of sponsored content, native advertising and content marketing below.

This post was written by London Faust. London is an Account Representative at Bellevue Communications Group, a public relations firm specializing in media relations, crisis communications and issue management. She is forever #TempleMade,class of 2014. Follow her personal ramblings on Twitter at @londonfaust or her professional doings at @BellevuePRPhl.