As PR pros, most of the hours in our day are spent: 1) Networking with every Conde Nast and Hearst fashion editor on our media list; 2) Absorbing all of our favorite fashion websites and blogs to stay current in the industry; 3) Scanning the mastheads at Barnes & Noble’s newsstand or the dentist’s office and, 4) strategizing ways to get our client’s newest product noticed (even during our morning session at Soul Cycle). To top it off, we practically sleep with our iPhone and dream of new press release angles. Unfortunately, our clients are not part of the Psychic Friend’s Network and therefore, have no idea what were doing.
Because PR is an inexact science, it’s no wonder that trying to quantify the work and time you spend on a client’s account can be tedious and even frustrating. Unlike paid advertising, PR services can’t guarantee media placements and that can make many new clients confused and uneasy about paying a publicist a monthly retainer. So, how do you explain and prove to them that you’re worth the money you’re asking for each month? You could take a cue from the bigger PR agencies out there and begin to track and bill your time in 15 or 30-minute increments, plus a weekly activity report. But my way of communicating this fuzzy science, and one that seems to work really well for demonstrating the work I do for clients (i.e. keeps them happy), is through a detailed monthly activity report or MAR.
Honestly, I don’t know anyone in PR who enjoys putting these things together. Monthly activity reports are time consuming and as uncreative as it gets. However, they’re important for demonstrating to your client that you’re not off spending most of your time shopping on Rue La La and taking selfies for #manimonday.
Step 1: What have You created this month?
The first section of your MAR should list all of the press releases, media alerts, look books and media kits you’ve drafted and disseminated…all items that eat up big chunks of valuable time.
Step 2: What media coverage have you landed this month?
The next section of your MAR should include all of the press mentions you placed for that given month (i.e., online, print, broadcast and social media mentions), all the celebrities you may have dressed or accessorized, as well as all of the pending press you have under consideration. It’s a good idea to provide stats alongside of the outlets mentioned such as the monthly circulation of a publication and/or the page views of a fashion blog.
Step 3: Where did you spend your time?
The last section of your MAR, and I think, the most important part, is where you list all of the outreach you did on your client’s behalf. You may have landed five press hits that month and have another five pending, however you reached out to 500 different media outlets. The act of pitching, calling and following up equates to an enormous amount of time and energy spent on your client's behalf.
This is also the section of your monthly activity report where you can make note of any research you did on behalf of your client whether it was tracking down the right editor, producer or stylist, time spent on creating potential collaborations as well as the time you put into any pitch follow ups.
While landing your client a spot in one of Vanity Fair’s Gift Guides or a slideshow on Refinery29 may not sound like very time consuming work to your client, we PR girls know differently. Fashion PR work is not for the lazy. By providing your client with a detailed account of how you’re spending your time, it not only quantifies your efforts, it makes you a more organized and accountable publicist. And it provides you with the satisfaction of a job well done!
Here's a MAR Template you can use to start providing this type of reporting to clients. Enjoy!
Photo Credit: purprin