Most Marketing And PR Agency Blogs Are Unreadable

One of the reasons I was compelled to join TopRank Online Marketing more than one year ago was the agency’s A-list blog – Online Marketing Blog (and I’ve enjoyed writing more than 40 posts there since joining the team).  Prior to joining TopRank I had regularly been approached by other digital consultancies and turned them down.  One reason why?  I was unable to understand how they could concurrently offer items like blog consulting services and yet also:

  • Have just totally unreadable blogs
  • Maintain blogs but barely update them
  • Have updated blogs, but traffic was pretty sad

It just felt like they were slapping blog marketing on their existing consulting menu but didn’t know the first thing about the social web themselves.

Not to mention when questioned on their consulting/client successes to see the types of projects and the team I’d be working with, I was unimpressed.  But we’ll set that one aside for now.

There is the old story of The Cobbler’s Children in business everyone has heard of – except in digital marketing I don’t buy it.  Marketing consultancies (or even marketers) who don’t blog or have results behind their efforts says something about their competence.  If they were that capable of doing it themselves (and really understood the benefits) they would be.  This is one area that if you can’t get it right personally, there is no way you can help others.

The reason behind this is simple:  a good consultant can help point a client in the right direction, but only if they have traveled the path.  And so few agencies have done this.  In fact, it’s even worse – as I hinted at above, most agencies now do have blogs but they’re basically unreadable.

This bothers me, and if you are client-side it should bother you too.  It should bother you because nearly every marketing and PR agency (qualified or otherwise) has added blog/social media consulting to their list of services.  And almost none of them have real success metrics from their own efforts.

You need to walk the talk, it’s just not something where the reasons for success are understood by distribution or proxy, even if advice is everywhere.  Experience and experimenting trump “best practices” if there even exists such a thing in the social web.

If you’re a modern marketing agency, your practice isn’t defined by your website, it’s defined by the ongoing story you’re telling to the world through the social web.  As the most passionate team members become savvier and want to work with consultancies truly at the edge, your blog will make or break your hiring.  As clients look to the social savvy of consultancies, their writing will be closely scrutinized and be a factor in gaining or losing new business.  If you don’t blog at all you’re telling a similar (perhaps worse) story by not even trying.

Yet with social media not being new, I can’t help but think agencies who fail at blogging are going to fail at the future of marketing and PR.  I understand there exists demand for all aspects of marketing, not just digital, but if I were client-side why would I hire any type of agency unable to succeed using modern communications tools?  After all, it’s the job of agencies to stay at the edge.