You Get What You Give with a PR Firm

As I was sitting in a planning meeting with our newest client last week, I was impressed with how much information they were sharing with us and how much effort they were putting into the relationship from the start. Not only did all of the key executives, including the CEO, meet with us for a half day and answer all of the questions we could throw at them, they also had sales executives present to our team – to show us how they sell and let us ask questions of them as any prospect might. This kind of exposure and information-gathering is key to helping us truly understand their business – what’s going well, what the challenges are, how the company presents itself, etc. Sharing information and communicating your overall business goals – not just the marketing department’s – is key to building the most successful relationship with your PR firm.

Too often, companies believe hiring a PR firm is just a notch on the marketing team’s belt and they are afraid to share “too much” information with the agency. Despite NDAs and contracts, they fear that providing deep insight into the business will cause the agency to lose focus or know too much. But think about why you hired a PR agency in the first place – you expect them to represent you, your products/services and brand to the world. You turn to them in times of crisis and you expect their strategic insight will change opinions, capture mindshare and alleviate naysayers. You expect them to be able to position you in the best light and in the most relevant opportunities, and you expect them to be able to speak intelligently about your space and your market – as though they worked for the company themselves.

And in essence, we do. At PerkettPR, we insist on being privy to marketing and sales discussions as well as C-level planning – because we’re a part of each client’s team. We can only do our best work when clients trust us, communicate with us and include us. You cannot expect any PR firm to do a good job if you aren’t letting them see the whole picture – good and bad. Let your agency help you figure out how to build the best positioning, strategy and approach with all the pieces clearly laid out in front of them. With such knowledge, they can help you to highlight your best assets, deal sensibly with any challenges, and turn around any negativity.

If you’ve hired a PR firm, you have already made a sizeable commitment. Make sure you get the most return on your investment by trusting your team and working closely with them on all fronts – great PR goes well beyond news releases and media relations, and should be treated as an investment in the overall future health of your company.

Key points:
• If you are making the investment in a PR firm, truly engage them
• Ensure C-level executive involvement
• Trust your agency – you didn’t hire them to be “yes men”
• Make the relationship open and honest
• The more you give, the better results you receive

One thought on “You Get What You Give with a PR Firm

  1. Good advice, Christine! Sometimes this can be fixed easily, with the advice you’ve given. Sometimes the problem is a bit more systemic–the agency PR contact isn’t giving the agency info because they don’t *have* the info. It’s incumbent upon the agency to get this information, ideally by getting C-level executive involvement.

    But that involvement is much more effective if it’s not just a fly-by (with the executive showing up for the initial messaging and startegy sessions and then dropping off the face of PR until the next crisis or it’s time to re-up the program).

    Ideally, corporate communication, or event better, PR directly, is represented at the senior management or executive level. Even if the senior marketing or PR person at your company is not senior enough to have a vote at the executive table, at least give them a seat at the table. Not only will it help your company make better PR decisions, as Christine points out, you’ll get so much more out of your agency!

    Thanks for the great post.

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