You’ve asked all the questions, reviewed the options and selected a PR agency to help spread your brand far and wide. Now all you have to do is sit and wait for the leads to roll in. Right? Wrong.
In these impatient days of the internet when things can happen at the hit of an enter key, it’s easy to get caught up in the expectation of immediate returns, but – just like having to wait a few days for Royal Mail to deliver that impulse purchase of 500 cuddly penguins – the return of signing up a PR agency also takes time. And a little effort.
First of all, it’s important to ensure everyone knows each other. We’re not talking best friends and drinking buddies, but providing your PR agency with a list of contacts (including name, job title, phone number, email and area of expertise) is a good start. More importantly, you also need to ensure your staff know who your PR agency is.
Whether this involves introductions up, down or across your business – an agency isn’t necessarily engaged by the CEO – if your people aren’t involved in the PR conversation then it may never get started. No matter how good your PR agency is, it won’t be able to capitalise on the amazing achievement of Anne in accounts unless someone has passed on the news.
Now everyone knows who is who, it’s vital they are able to trust each other. Your PR representative is there to support your business so you have to trust them enough to tell them – within reason – your secrets.
How can the launch of your super top-secret new product be celebrated from all corners if your PR agency hasn’t been previously briefed enough to prepare the necessary publicity? Even if you haven’t got a top-secret new product, trusting us to know which details to remove (or add) from written materials during clearance can make a big difference to speeding up the drafting process and ensuring the right message gets to the right people.
This trust can be even more important when there’s a danger of things going wrong. Fully briefing your PR agency at the start of (or preferably before) a crisis will enable them to prepare you to face (or possibly avoid) the worst of the damage. This can involve difficult conversations about risk areas or weak links, but as well as preparing your agency to work in your best interests these divulgences can also help you to review your own business and maybe realise which areas need a little more care and attention.
You’ve made friends, you’ve come to trust the agency you signed up, now comes patience.
If your PR agency is worth their salt then they’ll be able to pick out the news from the noise among anything you share with them. Which means there may not even be a story worth telling during those first few weeks of working together.
Yes, Anne in accounts did achieve something amazing by eating 50 cream cakes and raising £50 for charity, but unless there are a couple of extra zeroes in that story it’s not going to make front page news. Your PR agency will, I’d hope politely, advise you to instead post the cake queen’s achievements on social media or write a blog post for your website, while you wait until Stephanie in sales has signed a multi-million pound deal instead.
If you can communicate with your PR agency – and let others in your team join the conversation – and trust them to do the job they’re paid for in an appropriate timescale then the relationship is bound to be a good one.
Remember, you’re experts in your field, let your PR agency be experts in theirs.
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