More Than Half of Small-to-Medium Size PR Agencies Are Outsourcing Digital/Social Account Work, Survey Finds


TSG PR Agency Owner Digital Marketing and Media Survey


Contact: Rich Jachetti

New York, NY. August 2017 – Fifty-five per cent of U.S. pr agencies doing $4 million and under a year in net revenues claim they don’t have the requisite in-house capabilities to keep up with client demands for digital, mobile, social media and online marketing services.

This is but one of the findings in a survey of 800 U.S. pr agency CEOs just completed by the mergers and acquisitions consultancy The Stevens Group. More than 10% of CEOs queried responded to the survey.

And yet, 70% of the respondents answered “yes” when asked if they are confident their agency will be current on continually changing digital platforms in the next two years.

More than one third of all agency CEOs surveyed indicate their digital needs are being met by utilizing outside resources.  And 30% said they seldom if ever need additional resources beyond their existing in-house staff and their network of freelance digital service providers.

“PR agencies in the $4M and under revenue range apparently are not keeping up with internal staffing requirements needed to provide clients with end-to-end digital services,” Rich Jachetti, senior partner at The Stevens Group said. “A much larger percentage of firms in the small-to-medium size range are depending on outside contractors to meet client demands. They haven’t as yet committed to building internal staffs that are capable of fulfilling clients’ ever-expanding digital marketing needs.

“Most firms,” Jachetti added, “claim to have a full suite of digital marketing capabilities. But the central question is which firms are actually staffed with full time, or even part time employees, to handle new media marketing assignments, and which firms are mainly outsourcing the work?”

The survey found that only one third of the agencies responding employed more than 10% of its staff on a full time basis to focus solely on digital. Yet 53% of the CEOs said they intend to put more time and energy in the next year into recruiting staff with relevant overall digital marketing skills and experience.

“Apparently, the smaller size firms still either don’t have the resources, or the sense of urgency needed to beef up for the inexorable and inevitable transition from legacy to digital and social media,” Jachetti said.

Surprisingly, Jachetti added, less than 50% of the CEOs surveyed said only one third of their overall work for clients included digital services.

“The question remains,” Jachetti said, “are pr agencies sitting on the fence to see which way the digital wind is blowing?  Or to what extent will agencies that are used to the tried and true traditional scope of PR work venture more aggressively into areas that they’re not as confident in or knowledgeable about?”

The Stevens Group, headed by Art Stevens, provides both consulting services to public relations firm top management and facilitating mergers and acquisitions in the PR and digital marketing spaces.


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