Digital training in spotlight as survey reveals demand for SEO skills

A third of agency staff have received a low level of digital training, with SEO the skill most in demand among PR professionals, according to a new survey from the PRCA.

Digital nous: SEO skills are highly rated among PR professionals
Digital nous: SEO skills are highly rated among PR professionals

The PRCA’s Digital PR Report 2014 in conjunction with YouGov found that 35 per cent of those surveyed described the proportion of training they received in digital/social media as "small", while another 35 per cent stated it was "moderate".

Meanwhile, when asked to pick the most important areas of digital training, 49 per cent opted for SEO, 42 per cent chose online advertising/pay per click and 25 per cent chose web design and build.

The survey showed that the main source (69 per cent) of social media education for agency staffers is expert blogs. It also revealed a 13 per cent spike in firms not using PR agencies to help with tactical digital/social work over the past 12 months. 

The benchmark report, which polled 228 agency and in-house professionals, pointed to other disciplines and in-house experts continuing to raise their levels of expertise as one of the factors behind the rise.

On a more positive note, the survey revealed that half of PR agencies are currently responding to significant client-side investment into paid digital and social media.

It found that there had been a 12 per cent growth in in-house investment in online advertising/pay per click over the past 12 months – up to 68 per cent.

Some 47 per cent of agencies planned to boost Facebook posts with paid media as a response to recent changes to the social networking site, while 42 per cent suggested they would use other networks more, or change their current strategy (33 per cent).

The survey also found that one-third of agencies took up to 20 per cent of their revenues from digital/social, while 62 per cent of organisations had seen digital budgets rise over the past 12 months.

Ben Caspersz, MD at Claremont, said: "Clients are demanding more from their agencies and as clients become more confident in social and digital media, agencies will need to continuously up their game.

"However, the report shows that social and digital training is often the one area on which agencies still need to improve. More generally, we must continue the drive to upskill agency teams, improve knowledge of wider digital marketing techniques and evolve the services we offer."

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