As 2022 planning continues, teams are seeing the value of aligning PR tactics with their marketing strategies. In fact, 60% of marketing executives believe that PR and digital marketing teams will work together more closely in the near future. The role of a PR agency in this alignment, and in building an organization’s reputation among customers, employees, and stakeholders, is central. So how do you get the most out of the PR firm relationship?
After selecting an agency partner, it’s imperative to lay out expectations, deliverables and success metrics for both sides. A PR relationship may be challenging for brands to manage if they expect to take a hands-off approach and still be successful. Here are five tips for first-time PR clients to achieve success.
Set Clear Objectives And KPIs
PR objectives should be clear to both parties, and they should typically reflect the organization’s business goals. Clear goals will help define the PR strategy your agency will adopt. These goals should be both measurable and prioritized so that there is no misunderstanding. They might include a change in brand perception, increased brand visibility, enhanced reputation, or engagement of a new target audience, for example. Each is supported by tactics designed to achieve them.
The PR function contributes to business goals through the awareness generated by earned and owned media, among other tactics. But how to measure outcomes? Most teams track key performance indicators (KPIs) to quantify, measure, and optimize their programs. For example, a campaign might be evaluated based on a set number of brand mentions; social media engagement; positive sentiment analysis; or sheer reach.
Be Open With The PR Team
It’s important to be transparent with the PR agency about the good and bad. On the positive side, something the client has overlooked or takes for granted could be useful information for media relations or storytelling. On the other hand, if there’s an internal problem, the agency needs to know about it and to prepare for any negative impact. PR firms are pros at handling negative news, and advance preparation is important if bad news is anticipated.
Make Onboarding Work Hard
Onboarding is where a PR firm really gets to know a business and its objectives and mission. A thorough onboarding can make the difference between a successful start and a mediocre one. During this process a PR team benefits from a full business overview (messaging, differentiators, competitors, etc.). It’s also an opportunity to meet brand spokespersons and the leadership team; learn their points of view about key issues; and review the marketing calendar, including product roadmap, upcoming announcements, content, and targeted conferences and awards. This is the time to go over everything in detail so both sides are set up for success. From this point the PR agency will build out their strategy and come back to the next meeting with a full plan in place.
Encourage Honest Feedback
To get the most out of any outside agency or consultant, it’s best to encourage counsel and feedback that challenges the status-quo. Let your team know you’re not afraid of ideas that fall outside the usual boundaries. They are bringing a fresh set of eyes and ears to the situation, and objectivity brings value. Their advice and judgment is informed by experience, and PR thrives on a blend of experience and fresh ideas.
In media relations, timing is everything. Journalists have deadlines and PR teams need to work quickly and efficiently to meet them. If a PR firm can’t reach a client about a fast-breaking opportunity, it may be lost, potentially affecting future ones. In addition to journalists’ deadlines, brands need to be available to participate in strategy discussions, review press releases and other types of copy, provide/approve reactions to news ideas, and more.
By following these tips and using common sense, any organization can have a successful partnership with a PR agency. Be sure to stay engaged and foster open communication for the best results. At the end of the day, you want to hire an agency team you trust. Don’t be afraid to give your firm the space it needs to make moves on your behalf once you provide all the assets they need. Ultimately this is a partnership where both parties grow together.