To be effective your chosen PR agency needs to be an integral part of your marketing and management team. This requires openness to build confidence and respect on all sides. Only this way, will you be able to maximise the effectiveness of your PR budget. After all, PR is about communication and that starts with the client and agency relationship.
Ten Things You Should Do
- Tell your PR agency about your company history. By gaining an understanding of your past, your PR company can be more effective in putting PR plans into action.
- Outline the guiding philosophy. This may be contained in the mission statement. However, it will probably be broader and more rounded than the mission statement.
- Outline the key objectives of the current business plan. Agree how, where and when the public relations can support these and where they can support PR. Your PR should not be viewed in isolation to the rest of you marketing, even though objectives may differ.
- Gaining the co-operation of everyone involved is vital. Delegating liaison with your PR company to a poorly briefed and over worked office junior will not prove effective in the long-term. Editors and journalists will want to speak to senior excutives – CEO, MD, Chairman and so on.
- Tell all. If there is any unfortunate history to the business, issues that affect it or emerging problems, the PR company can deal with this more effectively if it is known. Likewise, if there are exciting developments, it is better to be briefed in good time than to deal with them at short notice.
- Brief all your people about the appointment of the PR company. Emphasise the importance of providing timely information and signing off copy promptly. You don’t want the PR agency to waste time and probably budget being passed around an endless decision making loop. You also don’t want to produce the perfect feature article only to find the editorial deadline for it has passed.
- Allow adequate time for activities. Though online media reacts very quickly, editorial issued today may not appear in print for two to three months and the lead times for some journals can be even longer. Planning for events like exhibitions need to start at least six months in advance.
- Treat any enquiries from the media seriously. Editors do prefer to speak to senior figures, they do wish to talk to you, not your PR company. Politeness and availability cost nothing and do make a big difference.
- Ask your PR company to source appropriate training. If you feel uncomfortable dealing with journalists or broadcast media there are many good training companies – ask your PR company to source one for you.
- Encourage co-operation. Especially, between your PR company, advertising agency, graphic designers, web designers and others. This can often lead to more cost effective PR programmes due to sharing of resources, greater creativity and better synchronisation of delivery.
Five Things You Should Not Do
- Don’t keep your PR company in the dark. PR is an information driven service.
- Don’t leave everything to the very last minute. Timely copy approval, commissioning of photography or briefing on an important development is essential. Editors will not delay publication and do not repeat opportunities.
- Don’t change key objectives part way through a programme. Your PR needs to be consistent over time, so messages reinforce each other.
- Don’t cut agreed budgets or suspend programmes mid point. If you flag up any difficulties your PR company can often refocus and prioritise so that core objectives are still supported.
- Don’t let grievances fester. If you are unhappy about any aspect of your PR company’s work, tell them and allow them to explain what they are doing and why or suggest alternative approaches.