The best PR agencies will make it clear what they need from you in order to optimise your budget and collaboration with them. PR people by nature are incredibly self-sufficient. Contemplating and considering all likely outcomes, taking creative licence, researching in order to become experts in the field of our clients is all part of the gig.
There are some things however that will road-block success or diminish the potential of the outcomes, even with the best PR arsenal in your court.
Here is my guide on what PR agencies need most from their clients in order to succeed:
GET CLEAR ON YOUR IDEAL OUTCOMES
Sounds obvious, but know your product, its place in the market and get clear on where your business is going. If this is a grey area for you then you’re not in a position to start shouting from the rooftops about it. Your PR agency can guide you with this. However knowing what your ideal outcomes are first up is primal. Without this, it’s all kinds of misadventures.
AN INCREDIBLE PRODUCT OR SERVICE
PR is just one element of what makes a successful business. One could argue that if your business is relying on PR in order to be successful, then you’re in deep shit. In an era of quick-click purchases you’d better believe that what your business sells is something unique, even magical. And the way in which it is sold or delivered needs to be something worth remembering.
Do plan ahead. Don’t recruit the help of a PR agency a few days or a month or two before you want to see results. There’s nothing more frustrating to a PR agency than not being able to maximise publicity or return on investment because lead-time wasn’t factored in.
When you’re teaming up with a PR agency on any project, there is a period of on-boarding and briefing, preparation and planning, followed by execution and adjustment as required before it’s ‘in-market’. Then and only then, do you see results. Our advice is to find out the recommended lead-time and then adjust your expectations based on that. Change your launch date if you need to. Equally don’t drop deadlines in front of them that wont ensure the best quality work is submitted. Case in point, the client who gives us proper lead-time to ensure full bloom is always happy.
HAVE AN ACTUAL STORY
We know businesses can get swept up in their own bubble without stepping aside to consider that the cut of their jab might actually be a case of ‘no news’. New website reveals, store openings, swimwear label launches and kidswear clothing brands are a dime a dozen; what makes yours special and unique? Consider that, refine your offering and from there your PR agency can develop, evolve and share your story. Yes, your PR agency will come up with ways to formulate news, but there really needs to be the foundations of something interesting or important in the first place.
COMMUNICATION IS ESSENTIAL
Assign a point of contact. Make it clear who needs to be looped in on what and who doesn’t. And word your PR firm up on all the ins and outs of your business. Better to arm them with more than they know than miss the opportunity of support on a lead business initiative, special announcement, milestone, important date or something that your PR agency can support for that month.
Media work to fast lead times and need quick responses. Or else the opportunity you’ve spent months setting up can be lost. This is the true for social media campaigns too. For the times where a customer needs a friendly and informative response as opposed to radio silence. It can be the difference between a public social media fall-out or not. Equally if your PR agency is managing your social platform publishing; best to give them the approval on evolving strategies quickly so that they can execute efficiently on your behalf.
EVOLVE OR DIE
One of the best things about working with a PR agency is that they are usually culturally progressive, ahead of media, know your target audience better than you do and are on-top of digital and consumer trends. And funnily enough they know what works when it comes to PRing a business. Give your PR agency some flexibility to do what they recommend works. Albert Einstein said it well, ‘inanity is doing the same things over and over again, but expecting different results’. Standing still and going nowhere is weakening for business, especially in retail. Getting left behind and becoming obsolete is even worse.
DON’T MICRO MANAGE
Micro managing increases reporting which in turns wastes a whole lotta time on what could’ve been spent on getting results. PR agencies know that your success is their success. If you’ve done your due diligence when hiring an agency, you should trust the team can get the job done well. Let your agency update you when the time is right and hold back from niggling at them. If you’ve identified the need for outside help, why not do everything you can to ensure the relationship thrives. Being preoccupied with the tasks of others is the death-knell of creativity. No one performs well under strict micro management and at the end of the day it’s just not fun for anyone.
Give your PR agency time to carry out the plans they’ve put in place. Jumping-the-gun and demanding to know why you don’t have thousands of engaged followers on social, or sign-ups to your EDM after one ad campaign, or that you’re not front page after three months is clearly not understanding how PR and social media work. Some clients seem to expect miracles overnight. Public Relations takes time. Adjust your expectations with reality. And give PR at least twelve months to set you on the path for long-term PR results.
PR client perils aside, by following these tips and just being a good human will see you fostering a successful partnership with an agency with great results for years to come.
By Jade Roberts
raraPR Founder and Director