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Return on investment

August, 2012

This is the third in a series of articles. 'A poor brief is pants' is the first and 'Ten questions to ask your prospective PR agency' is the second.

Appointing the agency is relatively easy, but the hard work’s only just begun. The challenge is how to translate news into column inches and tangible new business. Philip Jones takes a look at how to get the best return on your investment.

To get the most from your PR and marketing spend senior directors must be signed up to it. They must remain committed, give it time to deliver results, and support the objectives agreed with the newly appointed agency.

The client needs to view the agency as an intrinsic part of its management team, fully engaged and share commercially sensitive information with it. Without this the agency will find itself with one arm effectively tied behind its back and trying to second-guess what to do.

The new agency-client relationship must be built on trust, and everybody must know the part they have to play. To get the greatest return on your investment in PR, clients need to be active participants, and:

1. Allocate enough time

Time is at a premium for everybody, but two-way communication is imperative. Briefing meetings in the first weeks, then regular face-to-face meetings will deliver an in-depth understanding, and improve performance.

2. Plan

Prepare a timetable of activity to give you as much advance notice of events as possible to ensure a regular flow of newsworthy stories.

3. React quickly

It is important for the client to ensure a rapid turnaround when it comes to the approval of press releases, comments or confirmations of availability for interview with journalists.

4. Be honest

PR has to be honest and truthful in order to protect a business’ reputation. A PR agency can only work if it’s in possession of the facts and can determine the best way forward. Again this comes back to the issue of trust – and the client will invariably need to trust the agency with commercially sensitive information.

5. Give feedback

Every agency needs feedback. Although it might not always be positive, most agencies would want it to be quick and honest so they can make the necessary adjustments and sustain a positive relationship.

6. Share knowledge

Regardless of how long an agency works for a company, they will never know more than the client does about the business and industry. Sharing industry knowledge and insight can enable an agency to identify the most newsworthy stories, resulting in greater media interest.

7. Be open minded

An agency’s job is to translate their knowledge of the client, and understanding of what journalists want, into strong editorial. Often business leaders find themselves too close to a project and editorial expectations can become unrealistic. Clients need to trust their agency to deliver.

8. Don't follow, lead

PR, like marketing, is all about differentiating a business from its competitors, and a strong story, industry insight and opinion, is a good starting point. Don't be afraid to give an opinion, but always make sure it can stand up to scrutiny.

9. Be available

When a release is despatched make sure there’s a media-trained spokesperson available to answer queries and be interviewed. This will build trust with the press and give them the confidence to ask for a comment if an industry story breaks, with you as the expert commentator.

10. Keep calm

Most companies have a story to tell and most of the time they are positive. However, that’s not always the case so it’s important to spend some time considering what might happen to damage a hard earned reputation. Then it’s all about being prepared, considering the media’s reaction, being media trained and practising for any eventuality. At the end of the day this will leave you better placed to: ‘Keep calm and carry on’.

If all that struck a chord then why not get in touch with Maxim. We support a range of businesses including wind farms, property developers, regional airports, tourism champions, lawyers, accountants and universities, but we’re not industry experts – our clients are. Combining our clients’ industry knowledge with our media expertise results in a business with a strengthened profile and reputation.

Philip Jones - Associate

Philip Jones

Maxim / Associate

posted in: advice, marketing, media relations, public relations,

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