As a new year begins, many PR consultants will be updating their clients’ strategies for the next twelve months, and it is therefore important that they use this time to refresh ideas. With increased competiveness due to the challenging economic climate, agencies would be remiss not to develop creative strategies in order to ensure client retention.
In the 1980s, the average client-agency relationship lasted seven and a half years. By 2007, this was down to just three and a half and there are now estimated to be around 750 PR agencies in the UK, so competition is fierce. Twenty years ago, PR was a lot about ‘who you knew’ and where you were based, but now with the growth of technology, there are experts all over the country – and beyond – that may be fighting for the same business. With the cost of gaining new clients significantly higher than retaining existing ones, now is the time to review campaigns currently being delivered and consider whether they could benefit from a totally new creative direction. Here are a number of suggestions for how to deliver exciting new ideas to existing clients:
- Regularly assess the effectiveness of your campaigns to see what is working, so that any new ideas will be beneficial. For example, if online PR has been successful, it is advisable to continue this focus, and perhaps bring in a social media or SEO campaign to capitalise on this and deliver a higher ROI.
- If budget permits, undertake market insight to determine how a brand is currently being perceived by its target audience and ascertain what types of marketing methods may appeal to them. If this research is taken on an annual basis, it can prove to be a valuable asset in keeping hold of clients.
- Assess the competitive outlook for each client to analyse what activity has been successful. This way you can identify what types of campaign the target market responds to.
- Big, creative campaigns may be a lucrative revenue stream for agencies, but it is worth assessing the long term benefit of these ideas. With big budgets required for events and experiential activity, it is worthwhile considering the return on investment of this, and whether a more straight forward news-driven approach would be beneficial. Clients will no doubt appreciate your honesty.
- A company-wide brainstorm is always a great source for ideas. Remember to include members of the team that are not close to that particular client or project, as this will be sure to keep things fresh.
- Look at partnerships: What other brands can you team up with to mutual benefit? Putting in a few calls to other on-brand organisations to assess their interest will help to refresh your strategy, and also stretches the budget.
It is important to always remain creative with clients, particularly those that have been retained for some time. With the average client-agency relationship lasting less than four years, even before the recession hit, it is more important than ever to stay on the front foot. While the beginning of January may be a busy period for all, it is worth making time to rethink PR strategies in order to feel confident about the year ahead.
Victoria Harris is an account director at integrated PR, social media and SEO agency, Punch Communications. For further information about Punch’s social search and SEO services, please visit www.punchcomms.com or call +44 (0)1858 411 600