How to get the most out of your PR Agency
By Nicole Reaney, Director, InsideOut Public Relations
So you’ve decided push the pedal, and generate exposure for your business with a public relations strategy. Just like any relationship – you need to do the groundwork and nurture the relationship to get the most out of it. Here are some tips from the inside, to ensure your business thrives.
A clearly defined brief is the starting point – well before you begin your search of an agency. Set out your business background, direction, what you’re hoping the PR program will achieve and any key challenges you are looking to overcome. Be open about your business and visualise the outcome of the campaign – is it media coverage, an online presence, or specific industry partnerships. If you need help writing a brief, then contact us – we’re more than happy to help.
I probably shouldn’t say this, but do your research and select three agencies that suit your brief. Meet with them to discuss your requirements and use it as a ‘chemistry’ meeting. Be open, and let the agencies know how many agencies you’re reaching out to. Just like the online dating world, what you see online may not necessarily be the agency or person you wish to work with. So best to avoid disappointment and break ups early on!
Define your judging criteria, and set a score for each one depending on how important that aspect is. Then when you receive the proposals or meet with the agencies, you can evaluate them against this matrix. This eliminates personal feelings and emotions – giving you a business case decision. Be sure to notify agencies of your decision, and your reasoning, as you never know – you may utilise one of the alternative agencies or consultants down the track.
Give your agency the space to deliver the work. The initial period is around setting everything up for the campaign and having initial conversations with key stakeholders and contacts. If you over-communicate with your agency, then they will be spending more time with you than working on the campaign. Trust their counsel, for instance if they are guiding you on an interview, remember they can’t control the direction the journalist wishes to take on the story or if they’ve written copy a certain way, it’s based on their assessment of what will work for your brand.
Be sure to put in place KPIs, the schedule and reporting requirements from the outset– so both parties are clear on what they’re working towards. Regular checkpoints along the way will capture any red flags well ahead of time.
There are two sides to the partnership – and both need to ensure they are meeting their end of the deal. From your side, ensure you provide the relevant information, brand assets, payments and approvals. Then ensure your agency is working the agreed hours, delivering the work, reporting, communicating and generating outcomes. Here’s where your evaluation methods come into play.
Every partnership or campaign comes to an end. A final wrap up report is a useful way to tie up loose ends and provides a benchmark for future engagement. Discuss key learnings and opportunities for next time, review key competitor results and understand where you achieved your best business wins and where energies are better spent next time.
Overall, working with your PR agency should be an enjoyable and seamless process. It’s these relationships that create a sustainable and solid working partnership.