Last week, I wrote a post about choosing a PR partner, whether an individual consultant or a full-service PR agency. Today, I’d like to talk about how to make the most of working with the PR partner you’ve chosen.
Working with a PR partner can be an essential step in the growth of a business. A good PR consultant or agency will help you refine your core messages and make sure they reach your target markets. The best part is, you’ll accomplish all this without doing all the nitty-gritty work yourself. You can focus on growing your business instead.
However, your results will depend on how much you put into the relationship with your PR partner. Below are some of my tips for working with your PR agency or consultant.
How to Get The Best Work From Your PR Agency or Consultant
1. Have clear objectives.
Don’t expect to hand over your company’s direction to your PR partner. They’re the communication experts, but you’re still the expert on your business and product.
Even before bringing a PR agency or consultant in, you should have clear objectives and goals for your business. This way your PR partner can tie-in recommended PR strategies and tactics to help you meet your overall business goals – it won’t be publicity for publicity’s sake.
2. Educate your PR agency or consultant on your business, market and industry.
The success of your PR partner depends on how well they understand your business, your product, and your target market. Give them all the information they’ll need to have an intimate understanding of your business — and then some.
Don’t be afraid of overwhelming them or giving them too much information. There’s no such thing. A good PR consultant or agency will know how to synthesize all that content and use them to position and communicate about your business.
3. Keep your PR partner in the loop.
Update your PR agency or consultant on what’s going on in your business, no matter how seemingly trivial. You never know what would make a good PR opportunity or media pitch. A good PR partner will try to create as many media pitches as possible, so give them all the fodder they need – think of events you are attending, speeches you’re presenting, tradeshows you are exhibiting at, awards you have applied for or won, as well as anything that may signal growth and expansion of your business.
4. Listen and trust.
You hired your PR partner, because of their expertise in putting together a compelling message and making sure it reaches your target audiences. Trust them to get their job done. Listen to their suggestions and be willing to try something new, even if it feels uncomfortable and scary at first.
5. Monitor your results.
Before your PR consultant or agency begins any work, agree on key metrics you will both be looking at to measure results and impact. And then have regular status meetings to go over deadlines, deliverables and issues. Nowadays, you don’t even have to meet face-to-face for these status updates. A phone conference or even a webinar with key people can be just as effective and don’t require a commute.
6. Identify your in-house PR coordinator.
Have one person in your company who is tasked with communicating with and keeping your PR agency or consultant well-informed on a regular basis. Ideally, your PR contact person has enough authority to reach your company’s top management when decisions need to be made — and fast.
7. Have a spokesperson.
Your company spokesperson may or may not be the same as your PR contact point. Your spokesperson is the one who’ll be giving press interviews. He or she needs to be authoritative, credible and able to think fast to respond to unexpected questions.
If you have a bigger company, you may want to create a core team of spokespersons, so the task of responding to interviews is spread around.
Whether it’s just one person or a group of spokespersons, ask your PR agency or consultant to train them in giving interviews. Before an important interview or press conference, your spokesperson(s) should practice with your PR partner.
8. Stay involved.
Just because you have hired a PR partner doesn’t mean you can just “set it and forget it.” Attend regular meetings with your PR agency or consultant. Read the reports they send you. Keep the lines of communication open.
9. Consider your PR agency or consultant a key partner.
Your PR consultant or agency may be outside your company’s formal structure, but you should treat them as a partner nevertheless – one that can help grow your business. One way to do this is by involving them in important company meetings, especially ones that have to do with communication and marketing.
10. Learn the basics of PR.
You’ll be a better client if you have at least a rudimentary understanding of what PR is and how it works. Ask your PR agency or consultant for an orientation for you and your key staff. The more people thinking about PR for your business, the more opportunities will come your way.
These are just some of the ways you and your PR agency can have a smooth and productive relationship.
What Do You Think?
Have you been working with a PR agency or consultant? If so, what lessons have you learned? Share them with us by posting a comment below.
Image by Dwonderwall
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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