79 out of 100 top UK PR companies don’t offer online PR services: Bigmouthmedia


I’ve just come across a recent survey from Bigmouthmedia that claims that 79 out of the 100 top UK PR companies don’t offer online PR services.

They also say that only 14% of the operations that claimed to have new media covered published their own blogs. And that taken as a whole, only 11% of UK PR Consultancies use blogs to communicate with clients, colleagues and the wider marketplace.

I have to say I found these figures overly low. On the basis of the above analysis, there are only 11 agencies out of the top 100 that have a blog. Surely not.

Then again, I remain curious about the terms online PR, digital PR, etc. Most people I talk to seem to think there is no real semantic difference between them – they are simply different ways of describing the same thing.

However, in terms of their relative search popularity, there clearly are differences. Here are the figures for October 2008 in the UK:
Online PR 2,900
Online public relations 1,600
Web PR 880
Digital PR 590
Internet PR 260
Internet Public Relations 170

Digital public relations 73

Taking Google’s Insight for Search Tool, you can see that interest in the term “online PR” for example was at its highest back at the beginning of March 2008 – and has been bouncing around below this figure ever since. Google Insight also shows the regional breakdown for the term – and it would seem no one outside of London searches for “online PR”.

So what are the implications of all this for the UK online PR market?

This suggests that although interest is growing, it still remains a niche. For example, the term “fashion PR” was searched for 6,600 times last month. Indeed, the term social media scored 9,900 (though its variants such as social media PR, social media marketing, etc hardly registered).

Adam Parker, Chief Executive of online news distribution company webitpr commented on the Bigmouthmedia survey saying: “Despite finding that an increasing number of UK PR professionals are on the ball when it comes to online PR, this survey confirms our experience that a high proportion are still more focussed on traditional media. However, given that this is most probably a reflection of client budget and resource allocations, perhaps what we should be asking ourselves is what this says about UK business’ attitude towards online communications.”

Indeed. Though I’d argue that there is a difference between being aware of the need for online PR and being “on the ball”. Based on the above, it seems that interest in online PR (or whatever term you prefer) is largely confined both client and agency side to a hard core bunch of London-based converts. That surely has to change.

As Adam Parker added: “On a positive note, we feel that with steadily growing interest in the online world from both agencies and in house departments, the tide is beginning to turn. But if it is to properly address the challenges and opportunities that new media offers, the industry must invest in relevant services and training at all levels. Those failing to do so run the long-term risk of losing out in the inevitable battle for the online communications market.”

That I think nails it on the head. Agencies understandably are reluctant to offer services their clients aren’t going to pay for – but unless clients are given the option to actually try or buy a new service, then how can they invest in it? Those agencies that take the risk of developing new online services are clearly going to give themselves a better long term advantage.

185 million reasons for UK car dealers to be worried?


According to Google, UK internet users searched for the term “cars” on Google 185 million times in October. The historical 12 month average has been 226 million – so there has been an 18pc decline in search term usage.

And as we know, new car sales in the UK slumped 21pc in September.

Should we draw any connections between these statements? Before I have any Freakonomics fans on my case, the answer is – not necessarily.

For a start, I’m still trying to get my brain around the figure of 185 million. If we accept that the UK internet population is around 35.6 million, that would mean we online Britons searched on the term “cars” over 5 times each last month. Clearly not every UK internet user is interested in cars, so that suggests that there are some people who are searching on the same search term in an almost obsessive fashion. And why would you do that? Perhaps people check multiple times because they believe they will get different results – which will almost certainly be true in terms of ads served – and even natural rankings.

Then again, there may be other possible explanations:

1. Google’s numbers are rubbish

2. There are automated searches on the term “cars” which is hugely inflating numbers (though of course this contravenes Google’s Terms of Service).

3. The term “cars” is not just related to automobiles, but covers other things such as the Pixar film, etc.

Leaving this aside for the moment, if we drill down into some more specific terms such as “new cars” and “used cars”, we get something that seems a bit more realistic.

New cars 368,000 (Oct 08)

Used cars 1,500,000 (Oct 08)

(NB: Google Trends shows that people seem to search on term “used cars” most often on Sundays – which is worth knowing if you are looking to sell a used car).

If Google is to be believed, then these search volumes are the same as the historical 12 month trend. Which might offer cheerier news for car dealers. Then again, they may want to keep monitoring Google Trends carefully to see whether this holds up.

So what does this all mean? As a nation of Internet users, are we attempting to ignore the credit crunch by searching for “cars” all day? (Then again, we apparently searched on the term “shoes” 101 million times last month as well).

I still stand by my view that SEO Keyword Tools can be very helpful in helping to formulate a PR or marketing content strategy. However, like any tool, you need to be aware of its limitations – and how to use it properly. And have some confidence in the underlying data.

Are only 36 people in the UK interested in retaining customers?


Marketing 101 tells us that keeping existing customers is more often better than trying to acquire new ones. And in the current economic conditions, making sure you retain what you’ve got seems not just sensible but essential.

In which case, you might think that people would be searching for information about how to keep customers. However, according to Google, the search term “how to retain customers” was searched for a paltry 36 times in the UK in October. And over the last 12 months, the average was around 58 – so the trend is declining.

So does this mean that there is a universal lack of interest in customer retention? No. It simply bears out what we’ve said before – the majority of search terms consist of only 2 or 3 words. And that people tend not to use Google in great numbers to ask specific questions.

Having said that, what about the phrase “customer retention“? According to Google, a mere 3,600 searches occurred on the term last month in the UK.

Conversely, the term “new business” came up 74,000 times – although the historical average has been 135,000.

Without getting carried away, Google’s Keyword tool (and similiar SEO tools) can provide a useful picture of what people are really interested in. And what kind of PR and marketing content they might best respond to.

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