Justin Creally is a partner at “High Road Communications”:http://www.highroad.com/, Canada’s largest PR agency serving technology and digital lifestyle companies. Justin works with clients such as Microsoft, Buena Vista Games and ATI Technologies to help guide their online communications strategies.
*One Degree: What’s Vox?*
As a PR agency, clients turn to us because they want strong communications programs. Our social media and digital marketing services enable our clients to reach customers and other key stakeholders by using next-generation PR. Obviously, traditional media relations continues to be a core component of what we do. But for several clients, especially those reaching out to college-aged consumers or other niche markets, traditional mainstream media is limited in its effectiveness. We’ve turned up the volume on our social media and digital marketing services in the past year, as more clients turn to us for help in reaching audiences online.
*One Degree: Does this mark a new approach to interactive for the agency?*
We’ve been doing more and more social media and digital marketing in the past year. By formalizing the services, it has helped us open up doors to speak with potential partners and customers. Our growth in this area has come from doing projects for clients who knew we could deliver the results they were looking for through programs that stayed true to their brands. We’ve been able to develop some case studies of our success in this area for clients like Xbox Canada, Buena Vista Games, and Microsoft’s consumer group. High Road’s model and approach remains focused on our abilities to help clients develop effective communications messages and strategies which help our clients grow their business. We’ll continue to work with partners to supply the technology components of interactive programs for our clients.
*One Degree: Where’s your blog? “I’m not trying to pick on you”:http://www.onedegree.ca/2006/06/22/high-roads-social-media-division-misfires-at-launch but it seems that you folks should be actively blogging before setting up a whole division dedicated to this stuff.*
My colleague “Martin Hofmann”:http://www.mrh.ca/tech/ has a personal blog about PR and technology but from a company perspective, we’ve made a decision to consolidate High Road blogs into one area which will exist on our newly designed web site. So readers will have to stayed tuned for that. Of course, social media and digital marketing services are a lot more than just blogs. In fact, clients aren’t looking for communications help tied to just blogging. Most of our clients take a big picture view: they want to know where their target audiences are going online for information, they want to know how to best communicate online and which vehicles to use, they want to know more about tone and manner of communicating online, they want guidelines that can be shared with their employees, they want to know how to measure ROI of online communications, they want to know how they can contain negative news that is spreading virally online, etc.
*One Degree: Do you feel that public relations professionals are the rightful “owners” of blogging and social media in general – and if so, why?*
PR can absolutely play a big role in helping develop and execute social media programs. Most of the communications that happens in this realm is two-way and not fully scripted which tends to fit well with the skills and experience of public relations professionals. PR people can help ensure that the communication is relevant, authentic and supporting the brand. That said, the best programs tend to pull in several of the marketing disciplines. It is just amazing to see the work that can be developed when PR, marketing communications, and advertising are all at the same table.
*One Degree: How is managing relationships through social media different for Canadian firms when compared to US ones?*
The biggest difference comes down to the blurred lines of global Internet vs. geographic responsibilities for marketing. It is pretty difficult to restrict digital marketing activity to just Canada. There are times when clients want programs, budgets, and ROI all mapped to a Canadian-only audiences. But we talk to clients about the impact the programs are making on North American or worldwide basis and the need for every region’s activity to complement and help grow brands globally.