The decision to hire a PR agency is a big one, and brands 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 a contract, there are a few things you can do to ensure a successful partnership. After all, being a favored client means more passion and creativity funneling its way toward your account.
1. Apply the golden rule to your agency relationships
In order for your PR firm to build an effective 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, transparent and prepared you can be with that information, the better your agency can adjust to your needs and expectations.
Beyond the numbers, be available to build a relationship with your account team. Let them get to know you as a person and take the time to get to know them as well. Your PR agency is motivated to do their best work for clients who are respectful, enthusiastic and accessible. Making nice with your agency will go far in ensuring you are top of mind and each person on your account is eager to exceed your expectations.
2. 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. If you require approvals on press materials, sample requests or sponsorship opportunities, know that this might mean needing feedback in the next 20 minutes, not the next 2 days. 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 and provide an alternative contact.
3. 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, I’m about to head into my Bikram class, can we reschedule/do this another time?” Your PR team is working very hard to secure opportunities for you, often leveraging (ie risking) relationships built over time. Even if the morning show call time is 4 am, or sending the sample you just finished requires skipping drinks with your best friend to make it to FedEx on time, this is part of the game, babe. Saying no to an editor is like locking your brand in a small dark room, and saying no to your publicist is like sticking a knife into her hard-working heart.
4. Be the expert in your business, but let us be your PR expert
Working with a PR agency should be a collaboration 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 to provide strategic communication advice and direction, so understand that any feedback, suggested tweaks or needs are based on an in-depth understanding of how the media work works. If your account manager says she needs new product photography to make her outreach more compelling, get new photography. If updating the language on your homepage is crucial to a social media campaign, make the update. Your PR agency is only successful when you are successful, so make it a partnership.
5. Ask questions and hold us accountable
In any business, lack of communication is the greatest cause of unrest. The more you understand the why behind certain efforts, 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 a new PR agency, check out our PR Agency Directory,
Photo Credit: goMainstream