Why successful PR is a marriage not a one night stand
As in relationships, not being able to fully commit to your PR agency is a recipe for disaster. This applies to the PR agency too, if they are only in it for the cash and not committed to developing a long-term relationship, then they are probably not the agency for you.
If you want to use the power of the media to promote your brand, you need to know that it may not generate instant results, but over time public relations efforts can significantly benefit your bottom line.
PR agencies have been criticised for charging large ‘retainer’ fees but ultimately the best results are achieved from a consistent long term approach to PR, not one off projects. PR requires the long view because there are so many variables involved and sometimes the results can take months to come to fruition.
If you’re thinking about a ‘brief affair’ with a PR agency rather than committing to a long term relationship consider the following:
- To really change the perception around your organisation or influence public opinion, you need to continually invest in a PR campaign. One-off projects will have a limited impact – unless you’re continuously communicating your message to your key audience, any momentum you gain from your project will be lost as quickly as you gained it,
- Don’t think that you only need to call in a PR agency when you’ve got something to say or have an announcement that needs to be communicated to the media. PR is a lot more than media relations – it’s managing your communications, your reputation and your brand to every audience, prospects, customers, analysts and many others through a number of different channels. If you’re just using your PR agency to write and issue media releases on a project basis, you’re not getting the most out of the relationship,
- PR agencies can only identify opportunities for your organisation and introduce you to the relevant people and contacts if they understand your business. This comes from having a long term relationship. They’re not going to understand the challenges you face or communicate the success the business is experiencing if they don’t know about it,
- The benefit of working with a PR agency over the long term is ‘hindsight’. They’ll know what has worked in the past and what hasn’t. Sometimes a new PR agency might suggest some exciting new ideas, but they might not be possible to implement or might require additional resource to make them work that doesn’t exist,
- Working with a PR agency on a project basis is financially more expensive than on an ongoing basis. Most PR agencies will reward you for making a long term commitment to them by offering lower rates than project rates. This is because it’s difficult for agencies to resource projects, they don’t know how many staff they need from one month to the next, and
- You’re missing out on opportunities. Working with an agency on a long term basis means they should always be looking for opportunities on your behalf. If you work with them on a project basis, they’re only going to deliver that project. You’re not going to get the ‘a TV producer has just called us about an opportunity on Monday next week because they have been let down, would you be interested’ call. Those will be passed on to the retained clients who have made an ongoing commitment to the PR agency.
In conclusion, view your PR relationship as a long-term commitment that requires honesty, integrity, respect and good communication. Consider what makes for a successful PR relationship and work hard from your side to ensure you are giving the commitment it deserves. Many PR relationships fail because one or other of the partners is not giving or providing what they should. You get out of PR what you put in, so treat your PR agency as part of the team and you’ll reap the rewards.
This post is an edited version of an article published on Marketing magazine on 8 May 2012.
Written by Jocelyn Hunter - Managing Director of BENCH PR www.benchpr.com.au