Why Canadian PR Firms Aren’t Blogging

business bloggingWe all love lists, especially “best of lists” related to our own profession. It is even better, of course, when people we know actually make the list—and when we make the list ourselves.

A number of “best PR blogs” lists recently surfaced. InkyBee, Cision and CyberAlert all weighed in, tackling the ranking in different ways using a variety of criteria.

InkyBee’s 60 best public relations blogs

InkyBee created its list of 60 of the best public relations blogs using a number of criteria including:

  • An active and regular publishing schedule
  • Relevance to targeted keywords and phrases related to the public relations industry
  • Visibility including audience, connectedness and authority metrics
  • Engagement, such as social sharing, liking and commenting

The list includes only English language blogs. A mere four of the 60 blogs are from Canada, including yours truly who ranked 37th, with the balance hailing from the United States, Australia, the U.K. and Germany.

Cision’s top 50 public relations blogs

Cision generated its list of the top 50 public relations blogs by ranking each blog based on views per month and inbound links using data from its media database. The listed blogs cover “traditional PR industry issues, from best practices and ethics to emerging trends and industry news.”

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Cision does not list each blogs’ country of origin. I glanced through them and my best guess is most of them are based in the United States, with a handful from the UK and Canada.

CyberAlert’s 30 most influential bloggers in public relations

CyberAlert published the list of the 30 most influential bloggers in public relations, drawing from the authors of articles shared in its Media Monitoring News.

There are a number of great blogs on the list, including Avinash Kaushik’s Occam’s Razor and Australian Jeff Bullas’ blog, two of my all-time favourites. The only problem with this list is many of the blogs are not public relations blogs. As for Canadian content, there is not a lot, except for Danny Brown’s blog on marketing, influence and social media.

Where are the Canadian PR firms?

So where are the Canadian PR firms on these best blog lists? Why aren’t they blogging? And if they are, why didn’t they make the list?

To answer these questions, I looked at the websites of several leading Toronto public relations firms. In an attempt to avoid bias, I selected five recipients from the 2013 ACE Awards including the agencies winning best PR campaign of the year, best creative PR campaign of the year, media relations over $50,000 (gold winners only), media relations under $50,000 (gold winner only) and best digital campaign of the year.

Here is what I discovered:

  • Of the five award-winning public relations firms, three have a blog
  • One of the PR firms without a blog won an award in the digital communications category—go figure
  • One public relations firm, a multi-national, is doing a splendid job with its blog, writing frequently and following best practices (this firm’s blog, or its contributors, are listed on the Cision, InkyBee and CyberAlert lists)
  • The other three PR agencies are blogging but they publish on an irregular basis and do not follow blogging best practices such as the inclusion of an RSS feed, social share buttons, social subscribe and email subscribe options

Based on this small sampling it is fair to say that at least some top-notch Canadian PR firms are not embracing blogging. Why not?

I have several theories.

Theory #1: They don’t need to

American companies felt the last recession deeply. Clients demanded more than just profile building (AKA media coverage) from their public relations firms. American marketing companies, including public relations agencies, scrambled to survive. Many PR firms embraced digital communications, including blogging, as a way to demonstrate bottom line results and return on investment. As a result, Americans dominate the “best PR blogs” lists.

Theory #2:Canadian clients are turning to digital agencies, not PR firms, for their blogging and online communications needs

This theory is pure speculation on my part. It is possible Canadian clients are not using Canadian PR firms for their digital communications needs. Instead, they may be turning to shops specializing in digital or to marketing and advertising companies who include digital expertise in their list of services. As a result, Canadian PR firms are not evolving into digital agencies in the same way as their American brethren.

Theory #3: Blogging is a lot of work with no immediate return

I am the first to admit blogging is time intensive. But it definitely pays off.

Many companies, not just Canadian PR firms, are hesitant to start a blog. Still others start, but do not follow through with regular posts. A 2008 Technorati study reported only 7.4 million out of 133 million blogs had been updated in the past 120 days.

In other words, 95 percent of blogs are abandoned. And it is my guess the percentage has not changed much in the past five years.

Other research shows blogging is effective for both B2C and B2B businesses.  HubSpot’s Marketing Benchmarks from 7,000 Businesses indicates the number of monthly blog articles a company publishes on its website positively affects both inbound traffic and inbound leads:

impact of monthly blog articles on traffic

impact of monthly blog articles on leads

Content creation, including blogging, is an obvious service offering for public relations firms. PR practitioners typically understand how to create informative content—ideal for blogs—as opposed to sales messages. We are well versed in building relationships with communities—our  work in traditional media relations serves us well in this regard.

So why aren’t more Canadian PR firms blogging? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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