Panera’s advertising agency recently said “no more” to the retail restaurant/bakery giant, citing problems like too many quick changes as a source of ongoing problems and a major halt to progress. Here's our three tips for making PR agency relations work.
The simple fact is that PR agencies and their clients sometimes experience…challenges. Maybe it’s because they get to know each other so well over the course of the relationship, delving into brand opportunities, threats and creative concepts. Maybe it’s just normal tension from working together across multiple levels of message points and team leadership.
If you’ve been wise and invested in a professional PR strategy to manage and enhance your brand and the public’s perceptions of it, you’re already forward-thinking. As the relationship develops, you may wonder what some of the most typical sources of tension – and some solutions to them – are. Read on, because you already know you want the very best from your PR investment.
1. Too much quick (and unnecessary) change in the strategy, communications plan or creative direction. The opportunity shared between your company’s leadership and the expertise of a PR firm to make a serious positive impact on your future is tremendous. A great deal of this experience and thought goes into the overall PR direction and strategy, and while some change is to be expected, too many rapid changes that aren’t part of the strategy can completely derail your progress.
Solution: Make sure top leadership, middle management and all team members, when possible, are at the table when you make strategy and direction decisions. Choose a PR firm that welcomes your in-depth input and cleverly incorporates it into what it knows is true, effective and doable. Review the overall strategy often to keep all these great minds on the same page.
2. Leave personal agendas and office politics at the conference room door. Working through a plan for crisis management or reputation management for your brand is a serious endeavor with major implications. It’s natural for some at the table to have different outcomes in mind – such as those who may want to see immediate sales spikes rather than long-term brand growth – but be sure everyone understands that the outcomes of solid PR completely trump a quickie promotion. (Good PR can achieve both, but PR strategies are known for achieving the long-lasting perception shifts over time that keep brands around for decades.)
3. PR work is creative work. Creative work is often wrought with differing opinions. PR professionals with strong track recordshave skilled and discerning eyes for which types of creative messages will be most effective. Let them guide the process and trust that you’re working with true professionals who have made this discipline of PR their passion. As you move forward through creative message concepts and the distribution for those ideas, you’ll likely see the best success when you let your PR firm do what it does best (because that way, you can do more of what you do best).
Through every phase of the process, avoid the urge for complete immediacy. Since it’s garden season, if you haven’t read the classic children’s book The Carrot Seed in a while, grab a copy on your e-reader. As the little boy continues to believe in the seed, watering it and tending to it daily, he also completely believes that the payoff is indeed coming (and boy, does it ever, wrapped up in the philosophical last line of the book).
If you’ve experienced tension between your team and the one building your PR strategy, or want to work in a straightforward environment where you can better avoid some of that tension, call Axia Public Relations today. We believe in your brand and all the growth that’s out there. We know which strategies will work. (And we play well with others.)
– Jason Mudd, APR, is CEO of Axia Public Relations. He is an Emmy Award-winning accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. His public relations portfolio includes work for established national and emerging brands such as American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, Brightway Insurance, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, It Works!, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles, Southern Comfort, Verizon and more. Connect with Jason on Twitter at @jasonmudd9 and Axia Public Relations at @axiapr. Be sure to tweet and share your thoughts below. We’ll read and respond to each of them.