The decision to hire a PR agency is a big one, and fashion designers often joke that they feel like they need a publicist to help with their pitch to get a publicist! Once you have found the right agency and signed contracts, there are a few things you can do to ensure a successful partnership.
Let us get to know you. Also, get to know your team
In order for your PR firm to build an effective strategic plan, they are going to need to know some specifics about your background, your business, revenue, average order value, demographics, hopes, fears etc. The more open and transparent (and prepared) you can be, the better your agency can adjust to your needs and expectations. Beyond the numbers, be available to build a relationship with your team, let them get to know you as a person and take the time to get to know them as well. The more shared connections and productive meetings you can have with your agency the better. It's simple human nature, but we want to work hard for clients who respect us and make us feel like people, making nice with your agency will go far in ensuring you are top of mind and each person on your account is motivated to do their best work.
Be available, even when it's inconvenient
Things move very quickly in the PR world, and being able to move like a ninja on media opportunities is key. Getting approvals on press materials or sponsorship opportunities can require your feedback in minutes, not hours. Make sure you are available during the work day to speak to your PR contact. Let your PR firm know the easiest and quickest way to get a hold of you - whether that is email, phone or text. If that changes, ie you are going to be out of pocket for a day or two, let your account director know.
Move mountains for media
When your PR agency calls with an urgent media request (and trust me, it's always urgent), this is not the time to say, "Oh gosh, that's really inconvenient for me, can we reschedule/do this another time?" Your PR team is working very hard to secure opportunities for you, often leveraging relationships built over time. Even if the morning show call time is 4 am, or sending the sample you just finished requires skipping Pilates to make it to FedEx on time, this is part of the game, babe. Saying no to an editor is like locking yourself in a small dark room, and saying no to your publicist is like sticking a knife into her hard-working heart.
Be the expert in your business, but let us be your PR expert
Working with a fashion PR agency should be a collaborative process and you should feel free to come to your agency with ideas, articles you have read and even potential pitch angles. That said, you hired this particular agency, probably because they impressed you with past performance, so please take our advice. If we say you need new photography, get new photography. If adding a shopping cart to your site is a must-have, git-er-dun. Please, it is for your own good.
Ask questions and hold us accountable
In any business, lack of communication is the greatest cause of unrest. The more you understand the why, the more trust you build with your agency partner. Don't feel intimidated by your agency and don't assume that hiring an agency means the end of your involvement in the PR process. Asking questions, requesting status reports and asking your PR Firm to explain a course of action is your right. Just please, try not to ask too many questions at 5:30 pm on a Friday afternoon!
PS: If you're looking for help choosing the right PR agency, book a burning question for a referral, check out our Find an Agency directory, or contact me directly to learn more about my PR Agency Matchmaking Service!
This summer we're bringing back a few of our all-time favorite pots. This post originally appeared on PR Couture in 2009.
Photo Credit: goMainstream