Working with a PR agency is no different than working with any other business partner. Your business results will be a direct result of how much you both put into the relationship.
Here’s a list of nine steps to help your business achieve more by working as effectively as possible with your PR partner:
#1 Educate your PR agency about your business
If you want to get the most from your PR agency, you need to educate them about your business, its current situation, objectives, key competitors and more.
As part of your briefing, be honest about how your business is currently performing. If you’re struggling, the PR agency needs to know so they can contribute to a turn-around. And if you’re a shining star in the business community, they can help keep your company at the top of the heap.
Brief your PR agency about:
- Revenue targets
- Market share
- Past performance
- Competitive activity
- Government legislation that may affect your operations
- Consumer attitudes, usage and overall awareness
- Community relations activities
- Important stakeholders such as elected officials, unions and the people who live in the areas where you do business
#2 Fill your PR agency in on other marketing activities
What else is your company doing to market your business? Fill your PR agency in on your advertising campaign, upcoming sales promotions, new product development and digital efforts.
It’s important for your PR firm to understand the other elements of the marketing mix so their work leverages the investments made in other areas.
#3 Agree on a PR plan
It’s important that you and your PR agency both buy into a PR plan.
The plan should include:
- Goals and measurement metrics
- A list of target audiences, including media
- Key messages
Read one of my recent posts on developing a PR plan that sets the stage for business success.
#4 Add your agency to distribution lists
If you send out a regular newsletter or other digital communication, make sure your PR agency is added to the list.
#5 Give honest feedback
Don’t hesitate to tell your agency what you want. Be direct and don’t beat around the bush.
It’s really hard to develop a good working relationship if your styles are clashing, but no one is willing to speak up.
#6 Define your working style
Try to explain your working style to your agency at the beginning of their engagement.
Do you want to be involved at every step of a project with regular updates? Or are you more likely to provide direction at the beginning and then step back?
If you have a preference on how you want to receive updates, let your PR agency know. It can be tricky keeping clients informed without overwhelming them with information.
#7 Designate a point-person
Identify a person at your company who’s responsible for liaising with your PR agency. It’s their job to be the day-to-day contact and help facilitate your agency’s requests—whether that’s finding the CEO for an important interview or facilitating other quick decisions.
#8 Establish standing meetings
Set up a standing meeting to review results and plan next steps. This approach helps to set deadlines for both you and your agency so everyone knows when they have to report back to one another.
#9 Encourage your PR agency
It’s not your job to motivate your PR agency.
But if you can encourage them, they’ll be more likely to go the extra mile for you.
If your PR firm is tasked with getting media coverage for you, they are hearing the word ‘no’ a lot from journalists (and I mean a lot).
Ask them about the common objections media are sharing with them so you can help address them.
What lessons have you learned working with a PR consultant? If you work at a PR agency, what advice do you have for clients who hire you?