Managing Agency Expectations

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Businessman at desk shaking persons handThroughout your career as a PR professional at an agency, you will always have clients that you love and clients that you hate.  Ones that have a product or service that you feel really passionate about and love promoting, and some that make you scratch your head and say “How are they still in business?”  Regardless of how you feel towards your clients, your job is first and foremost to help them. It’s important to put aside any personal feelings and do the best you can- it will only help you in the long run through the experience you’ll gain and the reputation you’ll gain at your agency.

That being said, doesn’t a company who is looking to actually become a “client” have a certain responsibility as well?Shouldn’t they be sure that they’re ready before they decide to take on PR?  When I say PR in this instance, I don’t mean a part-time freelancer who helps you draft press materials and score a few placements that you can use for sales.  I’m talking about a full-time agency who will continually be working on developing your brand and is interested in talking long term strategy.  As much as agencies need to deliver the results that they promise clients have a few responsibilities as well if any PR plan is going to work.

1) Have a Solidified Business Model: Before you enter into a relationship with a PR agency, you should have the structure and operations of your business all figured out.  Not only is it the considerate thing to do for the people on your account, but it will also provide for more effective public relations and give you a better shot at media coverage.  Plus, if you’re a startup, the launch is guaranteed to go more smoothly.  Reporters don’t want to deal with a PR pro who is unsure of what exactly their client does, and the last thing you want to do is ruin your reputation in the media.

2) Be Newsworthy: You might have a solid product or service, but it’s important to be honest with yourself: is it worth promoting?  Is what you’re doing new or innovative in some way? Will you be doing things in the future that are worth announcing? If not, it might be worth it to take your PR money and put it into business development. PR professionals can only spin so much!

3) Set Goals: You will be much more successful in getting results out of your public relations plans if you have some specified goals going into it.  That way, your team will know exactly what they need to do achieve them, and you will be much more satisfied.  For example, maybe your business isn’t a good fit for traditional media but would really benefit from some targeted blog outreach- telling your PR team that this is what will make you happy will do you a world of good in the long run.

4) Have Your Point Person Identified: It’s a great idea for any company to have sort of Communications or Marketing manager, but if this isn’t possible, it’s important to figure out who will be coordinating with your PR firm.  You should also make sure that they’re the RIGHT person- in other words that they have the time, understanding of PR, and knowledge of your business to be successful in this role.

5) Be An Expert In Your Field: If your PR firm is smart, they will spend a significant amount of their time pitching your company as experts in relation to big news stories in your industry.  A lot of really great stories can come about as a result of this.  The ability to speak about your field fluently and knowledgeably is a great asset to have, because it will make you look better in the long run. There’s nothing worse than going on TV and not knowing what you’re talking about.  Plus, there’s the added bonus of being able to go to your agency and say “this trend is something that I have a lot to say about” so that they can pitch accordingly.

Any other suggestions for companies or people who are considering PR?

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  • http://www.abbyschoffman.com Abby

    Many of your points are so true. If a company doesn't know what they're looking to achieve w/ PR (or isn't realistic about it), they're not going to see any real benefits. Clients need to have some clear ideas in mind, whether it's the direction they'd like to go or a few goals. If not, they'll end up disappointed with the results.

    Yes, PR pros do a lot of great things, but we're not mind readers. A client needs to be well-versed in what they do and why it's important or relevant to others. If they don't know, how can we?

    Also, like you said, it's so important for clients to remember that just because they think what they're doing is newsworthy doesn't mean everyone else will care.

  • http://twitter.com/timotis Tim Otis

    I definitely agree with you on pitching the company as experts in a certain field/area reporters are covering. And yes, it does lead to placement a large percentage of the time if you set up a nice bio. Another point: sometimes external PR counsels internal PR department at company with organizing their communications flow to ensure assets and deliverables are timely and effective.

    @timotis

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  • http://twitter.com/wordzopolis Jennifer Woodard

    Clients also need to be realistic in there expectations concerning marketing and public relations. Both marketing and public relations are an investment in time and money. Clients need to understand that if they invest little money and little time they will receive little results.

  • http://twitter.com/wordzopolis Jennifer Woodard

    Clients also need to be realistic in there expectations concerning marketing and public relations. Both marketing and public relations are an investment in time and money. Clients need to understand that if they invest little money and little time they will receive little results.

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