Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

Posts Tagged ‘PRGN’

Social media, Project Runway and the right accessories

Posted by thecastlegroup on December 2, 2010

Sandy Lish, Castle co-founder, recently attended a meeting with our international PR partners. Read more below.



Last month, I met with the principals in our international PR alliance, the Public Relations Global Network, four days with our counterparts from around the country and around the world—from as far away as Australia, South Africa and India. As you might imagine, there was a lot of discussion about social media. While nearly every client of every firm has some level of social media engagement or interest, the dozens of member firms unilaterally see social media as a means to an end…not the end.

It’s difficult sometimes to convey that when folks are all abuzz about the latest Facebook app, but let’s travel back to the days when websites were new. (This is about the 10th time in two weeks I have used a cultural reference and massively dated myself, but what the heck….) Companies were building websites and some new websites were, for a while, actually news.  You could announce that “XYZ Company Today Launched its First Website.”  Then everyone realized…if you build it, they may come, but only for a little while. Some websites were cool but not driving business. Others were just the opposite. You had to commit to an overall marketing communications strategy, and then consider a splashy new website (for a fun look at companies’ older-model websites, check out the Way Back Machine) as a tool to apply to that strategy.

It’s the same thing with social media. Building a fan page or setting up a Twitter account is not enough. You can’t just sit back and wait for the customers to find you. The traditional marketing rules apply—you have to reach your audience in a number of ways, creatively, consistently and memorably. Social media is a great way to do that, but it is a strategic element, not the strategy itself. Like “professional media” (my colleague in Sweden tells me this is the term preferred over “traditional media,” which I quite like!), speaking and conference strategies, relationship marketing, events and the many other communications avenues, social media must always map back to the business goals.

On “Project Runway,” Tim Gunn tells the fashion designers to “Use the Bluefly accessory wall wisely” to perfectly showcase their garments. It’s not a mad dash to combine any pair of shoes or purse with any outfit…it’s about being thoughtful and strategic, and keeping an eye on the big picture. I like “Project Runway” (and my 8-year-old daughter does a fabulous Michael Kors impression), so I’ll attempt to apply the fashion analogy to social media. If you’re trying to sell a dress, make sure your tools—color choice, model’s makeup and hair, accessories—complement that dress. If you’re trying to market your product or service, make sure that your chosen social media tools, like your other communications tools, support your message and your strategy.

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Social media survey

Posted by thecastlegroup on October 20, 2009

The Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) is conducting a survey on social media.

Please take the survey and offer your thoughts. Feel free to distribute and invite other PR and communications executives (clients or colleagues) to take the survey as well. While all the answers will be anonymous, we will be sure to share the overall findings.

To take the survey, visit or dial (866) 402-6243.

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PRGN on Twitter

Posted by thecastlegroup on June 19, 2009

Scott Hanson from HMA Public Relations in Phoenix, Arizona — and fellow PRGN member — uses his blog to list many of the PRGN members on Twitter.

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Global business needs global PR

Posted by thecastlegroup on May 28, 2009

PRGN, our international network of outstanding independent PR firms just got a little bigger (see below). Our network now has 43 members around the world, which is beginning to feel more and more like an international virtual firm, as the number of queries, information requests, new business opportunities and suggestions increases every day.

In the last 24 hours, I have been in contact with members from Singapore, Poland, Spain, Atlanta, San Francisco, South Africa, Ireland and India. Last month, the group’s agency principals met in Sao Paolo, in November we convene in NYC, and next spring it’s Brussels. I never did a semester abroad when I was in college, but I feel like I am making up for that now.  

Every day I learn about not just what is happening in PR in other vital cities, but about how those cities are being affected by the global economy, digital and social media, sporting events, weather and even the swine flu. This insight is helpful to my clients and to my staff, and is a daily reminder of how things are both different and the same in other cultures.  

If we accept that PR is about reaching audiences, there is no better eye-opener than hearing about how different methods and approaches work in different cultures. The European members tend to be more collaborative, as different countries obviously have their own languages and cultures to contend with; in the US there is less client collaboration, as the agencies don’t typically have those barriers when representing national clients. Although it is fun to work collectively on clients that have local market needs, we learn that what works in Atlanta might not work in Boston, and vice versa. I admit I’m slightly jealous that in London it is still acceptable for journalists and PR people to discuss their pitches over drinks. 


Joining the ranks of PRGN are:

CooperKatz & Company (New York)

Ground Floor Media (Denver)

The Harrell Group (Dallas)

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Independence day

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 13, 2009

For the first time, we submitted to O’Dwyer’s ranking of independent PR firms. We made the top 100, which seems pretty good. At a minimum, this gives us a good benchmark for future growth against our peers (or competitors).

I took this from the O’Dwyer news brief on the rankings:

“The 157 firms ranked by O’Dwyer had a total of $1,689,996,342 in fees, a 30% gain from the total of $1,299,877,004 reported by 190 independents in 2007.”

This 30% growth number shows the faith companies of all sizes put in independent firms. We have the agility, flexibility and pricing to deliver the best results in the PR community. Technology, coupled with smarts, makes independent firms as formidable as any global conglomerate now.

Our partners in the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) espouse our belief that independent firms provide the most value and best results. Give us a try and find out for yourself.

(Updated May 27, 2009) O’Dwyer’s has segmented where each ranked agency sits with regard to specific industry categories. According to the rankings, The Castle Group is:

  • 27th largest travel, tourism & hospitality firm
  • 34th largest professional services firm
  • 39th largest food & beverage firm
  • 41st largest financial services firm
  • 56th largest healthcare firm 

Additionally, we are the 8th largest Massachusetts firm.

Our partners PRGN also fared well in the rankings. Listed members and their rankings are below.

67.    CooperKatz & Co., New York

70.    DVL, Nashville

75.    L.C. Williams & Associates, Chicago

91.    Xenophon Strategies, Washington, D.C.

109.  GroundFloor Media, Denver

140.   VPE Public Relations, Los Angeles

149.   Landis Communications, Inc., San Francisco

157.   Buchanan PR, Philadelphia

Independence is nice. And so are those rankings.

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