How to work with your PR agency
By Lizzie Wood
Whether you are a large and established company used to working with agencies, or a small start-up engaging with a public relations consultancy for the first time, there are a few things you should bear in mind to help you build a strong working relationship with your PR team and to get the best possible results.
Nurturing this relationship and investing time into working with your agency will bring you much better results and ensure that your team goes that extra mile for you. PRs by nature always aim to please and tend to do better when treated with care! Here are a few tips for making sure things run smoothly:
1) Communication is key
Working with any kind of agency, whether for marketing, design, digital or PR, requires communication on both sides to make sure you’re both on the same page. Think of your agency as an extension of your company and share what you have coming up – any new partnerships, deals, events etc – in advance so that your PR team can make the most of any media opportunities. Regular updates are helpful, whether these come through email, over the phone or in face to face meetings with coffee and cake!
Remember that you can trust your PR representative – at the end of the day, you are employing your agency to help your brand achieve positive results – so it is in their interest to treat the information you give them confidentially.
2) Be honest
Let your PR agency know if you aren’t happy with their work or if you want to change course. The sooner you do this, the more likely they are to be able improve matters. Remember – they’re only human, so things might not be perfect straight away!
3) Be realistic
It’s important to be realistic about the results that you can achieve and to recognise when your agency is doing a good job. If you want to be in a particular publication, think about whether or not your company or story is relevant enough – is this a realistic target? Equally, if your PR agency has tried to reach one of your targets (with a fair effort!) and the publication isn’t interested, you need to know when it’s time to move on.
4) Only promise things you can definitely deliver
This is important! Don’t promise your agency (or a journalist!) something that there’s a reasonable chance you won’t be able to fulfil. It can be tempting to say yes as a means to please, but it can make life difficult later on both for you and your PR representative if things don’t come through. Of course things sometimes go wrong and you can find that something you fully intended to deliver isn’t possible, but in this case make sure that you communicate this early on – particularly if you have a journalist or another party waiting on a deadline. Most people will understand if you apologise, but staying silent can ruin valuable working relationships.
5) Take advice
This may seem obvious, but remember that you are employing your PR agency for their skills and expertise, so it’s worth listening to their recommendations just as you would listen to advice from a friend. If they disagree with you, suggest an alternative or edit your work, don’t take it personally – they are just trying to help. It’s in the agency’s interest to have a good story for the media as their own reputation with journalists matters to them just as much as yours!
Adhering to the above will help you to get the most out of your PR agency and equally, a good PR professional will act in accordance with these points and should be communicative, honest, realistic, reliable and advisory.
Lizzie is an Associate Director in the Manchester team