Many organisations appreciate the value of working with a PR agency to promote their brand, products and services. An important step towards working successfully with a PR agency is to choose the right agency. (For more information, see our previous blog: “How to choose the right PR agency”.)
Once the right agency is in place, some organisations take a step back from PR in the belief that the agency can take it from there. In fact, a successful PR relationship depends on the client as much as the agency.
“Prospective clients should not expect a ‘Hail Mary’ creative touchdown, especially in the proposal stage.
Prospects that ask PR firms to deliver ideas out of thin air and give them away in the RFP do not understand
that creative PR is a process that arises from a partnership of equals and a deep understanding of a client’s business.”
– Len Stein, The Good (PR) Client. The Agency Post 15.1.2013
So what can you, the client, do to get the most out of your PR agency? Here are eight steps that will help you get the results you deserve:
1. Be honest
Your PR agency is like your doctor. We can’t help you if you won’t tell us what you’re struggling with. Don’t talk around the issues. Be up front and honest. It’s the best way for us to start to help you overcome your challenges and play to your strengths.
2. Set expectations
Most agencies are happy to work with clients in the way that suits that client. Tell your agency what you want. No emails after 3pm? No problem. A weekly face-to-face meeting and daily phone calls? We can do it. If you need a minimum of two days to approve any written materials, that’s fine. Set your working expectations from the start so the agency can deliver.
Set expectations around success, too. Tell us what your PR goals are so we can work together to achieve them.
3. Be realistic
It’s not necessarily unreasonable to want a front page story in the Australian Financial Review or the Sydney Morning Herald. Although it might not be realistic, depending on your company, your products or services, your spokespeople, the story you have to tell and the other news of the day.
The nature of your business and your audience could mean that a positive story in a niche publication may deliver much better brand recognition and leads. Likewise, looking at your marketing efforts may show that self-publishing great content may deliver a better business outcome.
Sometimes clients aren’t sure what’s possible with PR, which makes it hard to be realistic. A good agency will work closely with you to set realistic, achievable and measurable goals.
4. Budget wisely
Part of being realistic is setting a realistic budget. Most PR agencies work with clients with wide-ranging budgets. The size of your budget dictates the volume of work that can be managed – thus the scope of media outreach, social media engagement, self publishing, events etc that your organisation can manage.
Your budget should be invested wisely and in the areas that will deliver the best return for your organisation.
5. Be available
Media relations can be a fast-moving game and opportunities to raise your organisation’s profile often come with a time limit. Journalists facing deadlines will talk to the spokesperson that’s available and can provide the information they need. If you’re not available, you could miss out on opportunities not only to get coverage in that particular article but also to build a lasting relationship with that journalist.
Your agency will work best when your PR team is well-informed. Make sure you talk to the team on a regular basis. If there’s big news coming up and you can’t talk about it publicly yet, you can still give your PR team a heads up. We sign confidentiality agreements with our clients and would never divulge commercially-sensitive information. If we know what’s on the horizon, then we can prepare properly and give you the best possible advice.
One of the things you pay your PR team for is to provide advice. Your PR team is experienced and knowledgeable. They may look at a situation differently and offer advice you might not have expected. Hear them out, even if you ultimately decide not to follow that advice.
Any PR professional will tell you that the best way to get attention for your story is to be different or unexpected. If you want people to listen to you, then you need to have something to say. So spend some time thinking. Be prepared to offer an opinion or comment that is unusual or even controversial. Develop a reputation for offering insightful and interesting material – this will help you to develop a following and means it’s more likely that journalists will seek your comments for their stories.
Getting positive, ongoing attention only happens when organisations work in close partnership with their PR agency. This means both sides must communicate clearly and often, maintain realistic expectations, and, above all, consider themselves to be on the same team. When this happens, the PR program does not need to depend on a single, shiny big idea for success. Instead, success will come naturally based on a pragmatic and consistent approach.
If you would like to know more about how we can help you contact Adam Benson on 02 9252 2266.