PR Scorecard For Social Media Vendors

I really want to hear about the great things your company is doing. In fact, I’ve pretty much dedicated my life to this industry, and you can tell by efforts I’m really listening.

It’s important to remember that social media vendors need to walk the talk, and that means demonstrating your social media prowess that you are claiming to sell. I’m all for press releases, they have a specific purpose, but I won’t link in my digests, regular blog posts, twitter and maybe even my reports if you don’t demonstrate how you’re part of the discussion using the very tools you sell. Engage us with a blog post, invite your clients to comment, create a video demo, walk us through the new changes, maybe we’ll embed it, create a community or a wiki to show where customers can go to get support.

Social Media Vendor Announcement Scorecard

  • Pathetic: Do nothing
  • Poor: Press release, no social media
  • Ok: Press release, social media announcements
  • Good: Attempt to create a conversation in your market
  • Great: Create a conversation in your market, that has a life of it’s own and spreads, with no need of a press release
  • Extra credit: Bonus points for using your actual product.

    Vendors, rate your PR firms, are they good? great? PR firms, what has your client done in the past? Can you amp it up for them? PR folks, you have a business opportunity here. Given that recent research shows predicts about 20% in many key areas, here’s an opportunity to help your clients be more successful–and convincing of their releases.

    Hell, I have to hold myself accountable too, it would be ridiculous for me to stand in front of a client without actually using the tools I cover, so vendors, you can scrutinize me in return. Let’s check each other, and make sure we’re really doing what we say we do. I could have been mean about this and started a ‘walk of shame’ list and egg-faced companies and PR folks, but we’ve seen enough of that, I hope this helps, I’d rather be constructive.

    Categories: PR

    57 Replies to “PR Scorecard For Social Media Vendors”

    1. Steve

      That’s the analyst in me. After doing a wave report, scorecards just seem to be natural way to grade.

      Ugh, I’m shuddering just thinking about all the time I had to spend in excel.

    2. I think your scorecard is a great idea. Too may PR folks position themselves as social media experts, but all they do is ‘talk the talk’. A scorecard like this provides a real measure of whether they can ‘walk the walk’.

    3. I love the idea of a scorecard for clients where social media is appropriate – but that’s not everyone. I don’t much like the term ‘social media vendor’ – it implies that social media can be bought like traditional media (a point pushed heavily by Mat Morrison of Porter Novelli). More interesting I think are companies who consult on using the best mix of social and ‘traditional’ media, blogs, Twitter, SEO etc to engage with audiences. And then walk the walk.

    4. Jeremiah, I’m looking forward to some of the results of this. One small observation I’ve noticed is that often at PR & marketing agencies, the “social media” skills are siloed within a very small group of individuals. Or maybe even a bigger group of individuals. But the day to day account teams don’t seem to be getting any more adept at this. But very quickly those skills need to be embedded into everyone’s skill set at an agency. Because I don’t want to have to go to my agency contacts and then have to bring in a whole new group when we want to do something “social” who then need to get up to speed on our company, account, etc. I want my day-to-day contacts to have these skills deeply embedded. I realize that might be some time out for some of the larger agencies, but there’s little excuse the smaller agencies. I know some niche agencies already have them deeply embedded social media skill sets. But most that I’ve encountered suffer from the flip side – the lack of depth of traditional skills that are still extremely important too.

      This reflects what I see inside my company too. We started off by having a small group of PR/comms/marketing people with these skills. but our goal has been to work our way out of a job, of sorts, transfering these skills so everyone knows how to do this as part of their day job. The progress on that front just in the past year or two has been staggering. But from my view, most of the agencies are lagging. Just my two cents.

    5. Biz360 produce a PR scorecard for traditional, social, and opinion leader media. An article in the NYT or WSJ is weighted for greater reach and impact vs social media. They do natural language processing for social media and opinion leader comments, seven point scale for emotive words and intensifiers. Very quantitative approach with human review.

    6. This is a must read for everyone engaged in what is generally called social media but for me is looking more and more like the media world we live in.

      Judging by the PR pitches I get regularly, I must say that many agencies have a lot of catching up to do and I hope they’re listening.

    7. Jeremiah – I’m a big fan of eating one’s own dogfood (I try to consume as much of it as I can). To that end, we recently hired our new PR firm, SHIFT, mainly because of their willingness and ability to “walk the walk.” In particular, I am a huge fan of Todd Defren’s PR Squared blog and Doug Haslam’s aka @dough Twitter activity (both are great in the opposite channels btw). Not sure if this is an official enough way to give you my feedback but I’d definitely say that SHIFT gets a “GREAT” in Powered’s book.

      Aaron | @aaronstrout

    8. great post JO. My new collaboration site (open project) will be doing a roundup of all the corporate social media activities – thanks to the help of Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins and Rex Dixon who are helping me at

      We will share that results with you and we will be posting them so would love to collaborate with you. Send us tips on who you think we should review.

      My big issue is to focus on the doers and ones that have efforts going on.

      Talk to you soon


    9. Jeremiah — do hope that you’ve seen both Cece Lee’s post, Would YOU Trust a PR Agency Not Involved in Social Media with YOUR Social Media Programs? (notable as much for the agencies that were omitted as for being one of the earliest contributors to this conversation) and Jennifer (@mediaphyter) Leggio’s ZDNet post Research report: Is ‘social PR’ for real? Which agencies get it?

      I love the idea of a scorecard. But I also love the fact that this post is such excellent linkbait. You’ve pretty much told every PR blogger out there that they have to blog this or be left off the list.

      Am also deeply impressed by Shift managing to get a client endorsement on here. That’s pretty masterful blog-fu they’re showing there, too [doffs hat.]

    10. @jowyang – together I’d say we’re “good” moving toward “great.” We are in the process of building some add’l community elements out on our site beyond our blog and Twitter activity. We definitely try and “walk the walk” based on the webcasts, speaking engagements and other social engagements we participate in. SHIFT is helping us create meaningful interactions with prospects, customers, partners and the media (trad’l and social). All in all, I’m very pleased with how things are going but always have an eye toward improvement.

      Aaron | @aaronstrout

    11. Jeremiah,

      I like the overall approach here, but let me quibble with one little piece: “no need of a press release.” I’ve just built an aggregator site that uses RSS feeds of press releases, and I’d like to see more companies providing releases in feeds. I don’t care if they’re actually sent on a wire, but the “official press release” filter gives different results than the company blog.

      The broader point is, before you kill off the press release, see if any of your intended audience is using it. It may yet have value.

      But by all means, do all that other stuff, too. 🙂

    12. Nathan

      Maybe you should reevaluate your strategy, maybe you should be aggregating conversations not press releases alone.

      It depends on what your objective is.

    13. We are a relatively new “vendor” in the field and as such we have a steep learning curve. So we figured why not making the learning curve itself our first blogging project? I like the idea of keeping score, on ourselves first, and later exposing our clients to the idea of rating our services during inbound marketing campaigns. That will keep us honest, and hopefully give us some metrics we can show to potential clients.

    14. Hi Jeremiah –
      Interesting post. I have often noted that “sunlight is the best disinfectant” when it comes to PR/Marketing practices, and in recent years the curtains have been ripped back, allowing plenty of sunshine in. It’s easier than ever to evaluate any company’s efforts (both “corporate” and “agency”) in this era.

      I also agree that Social Media has turned the game on its head. “Media Relations” and “Press Releases” are not enough. Content and Engagement (properly curated, as I noted in a post today: will win the day.

      I ought to take this opportunity to also thank Aaron of Powered, our client, who jumped in to say nice things on our behalf. Thanks, dude! … This one small effort alone – of a client taking it upon themselves to offer opinion about their agency – signals the momentous changes afoot!

    15. Todd, Doug, Aaron

      Ok, nuff back slappin’ you crazy dudes. 😉

      I’m going to grade Powered’s next announcement based on this scorecard, and Shift’s other clients as we interact. Let’s see where the rubber meet the road. Oh, and you should rate me back.

    16. @jowyang it took me a minute to stop laughing after your “you crazy dudes” comment. Nicely done!

      On a serious note, your proposal sounds like a fair deal. You grade us/SHIFT after our next release and in the meantime, we’ll grade you back.


    17. Your idea brings up some very interesting points and is a worthy topic in its own right, but our take is it™s really just the entry point into a bigger discussion. From our perspective, crucial questions that need to be asked include: Are PR agencies really thinking holistically about their client™s business goals? How can communications positively impact the ability to achieve these goals? Who is the company trying to reach and influence¦and what™s the best way to go about doing so? If PR agencies aren™t thinking deeply about these questions when putting programs together, then they™re implementing tactics for the sake of tactics”a statement that stands just as true for newer and more hip tactics, such as blog posts, Twitter posts or video, as it does for long-used and traditional approaches, such as a press release or press conference. Unfortunately, it™s easier than ever to get caught up in the nuts and bolts without really thinking about whether you™re reaching the right audience and, when you get to those people, whether it™s a conversation they care to have.

      Connected to this discussion is the point that new = right, and traditional = wrong. We™re accurately moving communications towards a more engaging and conversational model, but not everyone consumes information in the same way and from the same type of sources. Additionally, not all information lends itself to being communicated most effectively in the same way. Perhaps this is a long-winded way of simply saying there can be many good reasons for a social media vendor, or any vendor for that matter, to use a traditional tactic such as a press release, as opposed to (or in addition to) a blog post, to drive conversations in the social media world. It doesn™t mean one approach is bad while the other is good; it just means one may be better suited than another to meet your goals/needs. A good example would be an earnings announcement: the rules and regulations around financial disclosure, and the audience you are trying to talk to, dictate a very different communications approach than a situation in which you are looking to engage with consumers around a new product release. Again, it comes down to understanding what your goal is and how best to reach your audience(s).

      The net of all this: you™re absolutely right to see the benefits in identifying who is walking the talk and using all the tools and tactics available to the modern communications professional. However, it™s also important to get a sense for WHY communicators are using these tools “ is it because such tactics are hip and new, or it is because these professionals really understand how to use the right tool for the right job? There are people who may post and tweet all day but if they™re not initiating the right conversations with the right audiences to drive business value, then they™re just as guilty of pathetic communications as the old school practitioner who sees the press release as the panacea for all communications ills. Looking forward to your thoughts¦

    18. Jeremiah,

      Great post. As the founder of, we have worked with a few PR agencies.

      Being in the food industries, PR agencies such as Formula PR has used social networks such as Facebook Groups while traditional “old school” PR food ones have opted out for traditional print arena.

      Overall, the food industry has not been so innovation in terms of creating buzz using social media. This is due to the fact that 60% of restaurant operator are immigrants, many who dedicate their time to the restaurant operation itself without focusing on key components such as marketing.

      great post

    19. Jeremiah, you don’t appear to have any gray hair in your photo, therefore I don’t think you can say “I’ve dedicated my life………” – take it from someone with a lot of gray hair!

    20. I like the rating system Jeremiah. Wanna give us a ranking? 🙂

      At Oracle, participating in the social media conversation has been a fascinating journey. 2 years ago we embarked on our social media strategy with our agency team at Blanc & Otus.

      I would say we learn something new every day and also strive to get better every day.

      So while greatness is and should be defined by how deeply engaged a company is in the conversation, I think perhaps there is room for one more category “ Excellence. It™s what Oracle Communications is setting its sights on, and we think others in the community are too.


      Karen Tillman

      Vice President, Oracle Global Corporate Communications

    21. In my opinion…The song remains the same! — Good companies, and their PR Agencies, have always been tasked with communicating effectively with their constituencies – including customers/Press/Analysts/investors. 15 years ago the question was “What is your Fax/email Strategy?” — Today its “what is you social media strategy/” Different platforms at a different pace, but ultimately, to quote Aerosmith – “the song remains the same” — Those who communicate effectively will do well!

    22. I pitched to a firm in November 08 which was paying a large fee to a leading (by reputation, if not mindset) London-based PR firm.

      We talked SEO, blogging, microblogging, pod/vod-casting etc and they were stumped – because their ‘leading agency’ hadn’t even MENTIONED the possibilities to them. There still ARE 2.0-ignorant PRs out there (what ARE they reading?)

      We won the contract…but unfortunately their budget cut and we couldn’t put it into practice, but I gather they’re experimenting internally.

      Great scorecard. Agree 100%

    23. “Great: Create a conversation in your market, that has a life of it™s own and spreads, with no need of a press release”
      — should be spelled its, not it’s. Grammar is still a good communication tool.
      Otherwise, it’s a good scorecard, and I couldn’t agree more with your message.

    24. We are a tech start up SaaS and used to have a very good, but traditional pr-agency that I have to give a ˜Poor™ rating to. After less than a year, they dumped us! Ha!

      We decided that we needed to go with someone who knows social media. We have been with Elmer of and in a few short months and couldn™t be happier! He gets a ˜Good™ on the way to ˜Great™ grade plus Bonus points¦ he uses our product, Qtask! (

      I also like what Anna Leonard of Blanc & Otus had to say about thinking holistically about clients business goals and warning about using these tools just cause they are hip and new. At the end of the day I™d like to think we are on the way to creating useful content for our target market, not just attracting business and traffic. Perhaps a question for interesting discussion is ˜what is the motivation behind your social media efforts?™

    25. We’ve been focusing on social media with some good results, most notably Twitter and Facebook. As an online magazine, it’s been great to see it driving our hits and visibility up. We’ve used our three Twitter streams (@fantasymagazine, @fantasycon and @fantasytrivia) in particular to generate ideas for new content, gather and generate some of that content, build community, and coordinate/publicize events like contests and special promotions.

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