What’s your reason for hiring a public relations agency?
You might have a small, or nonexistent PR or marketing team, and are looking for experts to set up a long-term communications strategy.
Or, you have a series of upcoming announcements that need an extra lift reaching the right ears.
Perhaps you’re a startup who has a groundbreaking product or idea, and need to establish relationships with key reporters and influencers.
Regardless of your why, the start of any partnership with a PR agency is exciting…and full of promise. By committing to these “Three Cs,” clarity, communications and consistency, you can ensure a smooth and successful experience.
Playwright George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place.”
We can take his advice literally. At the onset of an engagement, be explicit with your hopes and goals…as well as what you are not interested in achieving. For example, when sharing your desire for “top tier” business coverage with a PR team, make sure that you clarify what that means. Is it Forbes, but not Business Insider? Is it Businessweek but not The Verge? Do you have a reason for that distinction? Be sure to share why.
Know also that establishing and maintaining relationships with reporters is an ongoing effort. When introducing new clients to journalists, the path is not always direct, and patience may be required. It is your PR firm’s job to relay feedback to you in that regard.
It’s also best to prepare for the possibility that you might need to adjust the date of your announcement to maximize coverage. Or, that a reporter may be more interested in covering an angle other than what was originally proposed. Like any good relationship of give-and-take, we need to be flexible and be willing to work with reporters by being available to them just as you would want them to be available to you.
Have you assembled the right internal team to best guide your PR agency? C level executives may not always be able to commit to weekly meetings, but their buy-in to a strategy and willingness to make themselves available for media opportunities is a critical component to a successful PR relationship.
If you have PR specialists on staff, they will also be essential in ensuring that deadlines are met and expectations are in-line with your needs. Input from team members in operations and business development may also be a welcome addition to the internal PR dialogue. Whatever team you assemble, ensure a singular point of contact to lead internal efforts, and communicate with your agency account executive.
Although communication is ongoing, a standing weekly meeting is a terrific way to stay organized and abreast of the moving pieces whether it’s company news, media interest, or thought leadership. Even if they are occasionally skipped, calendarizing these check-ins keeps teams moving forward.
It’s important to remember that companies don’t always need to be making news. It’s important for you to spend cycles focusing on your next big move, innovating, connecting with consumers and facilitating alliances. During this so-called “downtime”, your PR team will sow seeds for the next big announcement, build relationships, focus on feature stories, enterprise storytelling, newsjacking and thought leadership. An introductory conversation with a reporter in May might yield a profile…in August.
When PR teams and their clients are in sync, consistent in their ability to communicate and provide clarity, success is sure to follow.
The right PR partner will ask you about what a win looks like for you and make it their business to deliver that, whatever it takes. They’ll also be honest if they’re not the agency for you.
If you’re interested in upping your PR game or would like to learn more about Rally Point’s strategic communications offerings book a discovery meeting to see how we can set your ideas in motion.