Even in the digital world, a first birthday is celebration-worthy. mp&f/d, launched last year (on June 24) by Nashville-based McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations, has exceeded expectations for an internal startup and has helped position the public affairs firm for the future. Digital director Annakate Ross and MP&F partner Keith Miles looked backward and forward in this Q&A.
What were the surprises in launching mp&f/d?
(Keith) First, we were very pleasantly surprised at the excitement mp&f/d generated among our existing and new clients. In the rush to cover all the platforms, I think people are realizing that it is important to step back and make sure everything works together and has a strategic purpose. The second surprise was the internal support we’ve gotten from the public relations staff. Our staff was active in the digital space long before mp&f/d came along. Now I think everyone has upped their game to help our clients take advantage of the new digital services.
What have been the most popular offerings in terms of services?
(Annakate) Our digital audit has been a great service for existing clients as well as an entry point for new clients. We’ve recently launched some trainings aimed at marketing managers and C-level executives to help them understand how digital/social fits into brand and communications strategies.
How does this position MP&F for the future?
(Keith) We’re already looking at additional services even as we cross-train the larger staff in skills like audits and analytics. I think mp&f/d can continue to be cutting-edge and experiment with all the “latest/greatest” and also serve as a resource and training platform for the entire company. That should keep our entire enterprise well-positioned for the challenges and opportunities in the years ahead.
What are your growth goals for the digital division?
(Annakate) Like any startup, we want to grow as quickly as we can, but in a sustainable way.
What are some of the trends you have witnessed over the past 12 months?
- There’s been tremendous interest in our trainings and learning sessions.
Our clients want to learn how to use social media and digital tools better. We’ve seen evidence of this trend from marketing interns to CEOs.
- There’s less interest from clients to outsource their digital work so they can wash their hands of it.
Now more than ever, when a client engages an agency like ours to help with social media strategy, they want to get involved, learn from the process and remain connected throughout. To us this indicates fewer in the business world are viewing digital as a silo – it’s now seen as an integral part of all aspects of their business.
- Knowing how they stack up against the competition is key.
Our digital audits have been one of our most popular service offerings. The audits take a deep dive into a client’s industry, and analyze the competition’s digital footprint along the way. Finding out how they stack up in terms of influence, which tools they’re using and how, is one of the most interesting components.
- Digital advertising is no longer just for the ad teams.
Our clients are typically communications directors within companies. Where there used to be clear divisions between the PR and advertising teams, with the advent of digital and social media advertising and the message targeting that comes with it, our clients are now often heavily involved in media buys. We have adapted to this trend and digital advertising now makes up a significant chunk of our work.
- There’s less interest to rely on the interns.
There used to be the misconception that because millennials were using social networks personally they were automatically experts in the space for businesses. We’re now seeing more interest in building out internal teams with professional experience in social space instead of just relying on the youngest person to do it.
For more information, please contact:
Annakate Ross, mp&f/d, (615) 259-4000, firstname.lastname@example.org
About McNeely Pigott & Fox
McNeely Pigott & Fox is an award-winning, full-service public relations firm in Nashville, Tenn. In 2014, MP&F is celebrating 27 years of creating campaigns, engaging audiences and communicating messages. MP&F provides total communications and marketing services for a diversified client mix at the local, regional and national levels. MP&F is also one of the largest independent public relations firms in the Southeast. For more information, go to www.mpfnewsite.wpengine.com.