Help Us Help You: A Guide to Maximizing Your PR Agency Partnership

by Becky Olson

Approach-Marketing-Becky-Olson

There’s nothing more exciting than beginning a new client-agency partnership. We’ve likely just finished an invigorating discussion filled with big ideas and even bigger goals. And now we’re ready to get to work.

For some clients, this may be a first foray into working with an external partner or in pursuing Public Relations at all. Others may be well-versed in PR but are coming to us for a fresh perspective. In both cases, we understand PR is an investment and we’re committed to doing our best work. As with any relationship, this is a two-way street and there are several ways we can help each other on this journey.

Below are eight easy things clients can do to get the most out of an agency partnership and PR investment:

1.     Invite us to your inner circle.
After the handshake, one of the most important next steps in our working relationship is immersing ourselves in your brand. As the public and media-facing representatives of your company, we need to know it as well as you do. After we do our own research, help affirm and expand our findings. How do you talk about yourselves? Do you have brand guidelines? Are there any do’s or don’ts? If appropriate, can we take a tour of your facility, try samples or “interview” specialists within the organization? This will help us talk the talk and speak convincingly to media on your behalf.

2.     Gather attention-grabbing assets.
Think about the stories and social media posts that capture your own attention. Media today require clear, compelling high-resolution images and video to help tell their stories. In many cases, newsrooms have scaled back their in-house creative departments, limiting their availability to create these elements on their own. The more high-quality visual assets we can provide, the more likely media will be to share your story.

3.     Budget for success.
The great thing about PR versus other disciplines (advertising, digital, etc.) is that it’s far more cost-efficient for the impact. As a virtual agency, we’re highly resourceful, scrappy and have experience working with all budget levels. And when our team can dedicate the hours necessary to fully develop stories and pitch media – you reap the reward. The real win-win for your company is that as experienced consultants who’ve worked on global brands, we’ve made a bold promise. If our clients make a good faith effort to provide us what we need, we guarantee that we will meet our performance goals, or we'll keep working for free until we do.

4.    Train your media spokesperson.
One of our goals will be to secure interviews and speaking opportunities for company spokespeople. These can be fantastic ways to bring awareness to your organization and your call-to-action. This is your company’s time to shine and we want the best possible outcome. Even if your spokesperson knows your company inside and out, the presence of a camera can lead anyone to stumble. If your spokesperson hasn’t already been through a comprehensive media training, we can provide it along with a briefing in advance of each new opportunity. Trust us - it’s worth it. If you’re still not convinced, just Google “bad TV interview.”

5.    Share your stories. (Big and small.)
Several factors can increase media interest in a story, including its timeliness, human interest level and audience appeal. Being on the front lines, we’re experienced in knowing what media are receptive to, so we may press you for more details to strengthen our pitch. It’s always best to share any and all story ideas with your PR agency team - what may seem like an everyday experience to you could potentially become media gold.

6.    Be an advocate for PR.
As with all corporate strategies, PR and marketing works best when everyone is on board. That being said, Public Relations is often misunderstood or overlooked, particularly in large organizations. Working directly with us day-to-day, you’re aware of our goals, efforts and outcomes. Showcasing successes to colleagues within your team, or within other departments, helps validate your investment, its value and can even aid others in their own job functions. For example, we’re commonly asked to share or summarize media coverage, which can be used by sales teams for strengthening their customer relationships or securing new business.

7.    Ask questions.
It’s ok to ask us questions about what we’re doing, why we recommend it, what’s worked in the past (or hasn’t) and what you can expect from our efforts. We understand PR may be new ground and that you might be faced with answering questions internally. We’re always happy to walk you through the process to build your confidence in discussing PR strategy with anyone, any time.

8.    Keep in touch.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s so important that you keep in regular communication with us. PR is a time-sensitive discipline. There is nothing worse to a PR pro than securing a story opportunity with a journalist only to lose it because we couldn’t get ahold of you. Similarly, if we have outlined a plan with deliverables and deadlines, we need you to actively review or approve items so we can stay on schedule. Communication is key and we’re always ready to take your call.

Navigating the PR path may seem daunting at first, but (we promise) it’s easier than you think. And the best part? We’ll be there for you every step of the way.