By David Libby
2014 marks my 20th year working for (and running) public relations agencies. I don’t often share how clients can best collaborate with their PR agencies, but was inspired today, by a client, that once again showed me how the client / agency relationship can be a true team and potentially generate real business results. What can you do to be the best PR partner to your public relations agency? Follow these recommended steps:
Advocate why you’re drinking the cool aid – Yes, you’re knee deep in what you do – more than your agency ever can be. As you’re doing your more than your once daily readings of news, products and trends in your sector, share the information with your agency. Continually push articles to your outsourced PR team that shows how you could be positioned to a reporter, how you’re different than what the reporter covered or how you’ll have a similar solution soon for the reporter to consider writing about. And, these aren’t the only reasons to push articles to your PR agency.
Set goals for your in-person meetings BEFORE you meet – Either establish a goal for your weekly or bi-monthly meetings or make sure that going into any in-person meeting your goals are explicitly established. Encourage the PR agency to do “working” meetings with you and your team, not just report what has or hasn’t happened. They’ve got you focused in a room! Get talking about possible contributed story ideas, pitches, press releases, speaking opportunities, awards programs, and much more, depending upon your objectives, of course!
Overcome obstacles together – Ok, so you don’t have a customer that can speak to your use case, so what? Work with your PR agency to come up with creative ways to get in front of the press. Creative doesn’t mean spam journalists either. Think about where you are today and discuss what you can do together to reach your goal. Your company many not appear in the Wall Street Journal overnight, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to insert yourself into the conversation now to help press understand and value your differentiated point of view.
Identify your goals and plan together – Sit down in-person and discuss what you want from your PR agency within 3 months. Ask them to come back to you with a set of goals, strategy and tactics based upon your conversation. Then, refine their presentation. Set yourselves up to be successful, so start conservatively and build. Make sure to convey that you don’t want to hear what you can’t do, but what you may be able to do as a team.
Client / agency relationships don’t exist in a vacuum and vary slightly from one to the next. However, as a unit, the client / agency can discover which stories to tell that will help your business grow.