Economists say the Great Recession ended in 2010, but many small businesses didn’t start feeling any type of recovery until quite recently. Others are still struggling. The public relations industry is definitely feeling the effects of the recovery, as more companies are utilizing the power that PR firms can provide.
Something that hasn’t changed since before the Recession is the need for the agency and the client to be committed to working together. Without total participation from both parties, the relationship will be less successful. This includes a transparent exchange of information across both parties and a willingness to be forward-thinking and enthusiastic for what the journey will reveal. When the client shows a lack of enthusiasm and engagement in the partnership, the PR agency can only deliver so much.
Here are a few suggestions to consider if you’re engaging the expertise of a PR firm:
1. Make certain that the agency is a good fit from the start. In some cases, an agency may not have the relationships you need across a key set of media outlets; in other cases, you may need a stronger area of expertise in a certain PR discipline, like national media relations or crisis management.
2. View your PR agency as your partner and leverage this relationship. The professionals at the PR agency want to know about your organization so that they can craft the best messages possible. Give them access so that they have visibility and information. A smart PR firm can offer an objective opinion that complements those opinions within your organization, so let its people in and open up.
3. Don’t wait to share information. Give your PR professionals everything you can as soon as possible so the agency can get a head start on working up plans and strategies. This can include written materials, brand or communication strategies, social media policies and related documents. Assign research duties to a member of your team and don’t be afraid to invite your PR team members to meetings to talk about research and strategy. You’ve hired them for their expertise, so invite them in to the planning process.
4. Once you’ve let the PR agency in, take its advice. These professionals have the expertise and a professional viewpoint that adds genuine, marked value to your communications process. The insight they have comes from years of training and working in the trenches with other clients and industries, as well as their relationships with numerous industry trade, media and business contacts. Sometimes what they advise isn’t easy to hear, but if you’ve given them full access to the company, it’s likely coming from a place of wisdom.
5. Recognize that some tweaking and reevaluating are necessary along the journey. Smart PR agencies will develop processes for crisis management, online reputation management and other PR tools that are outlined and precise. As these tools are applied to your organization’s key messages, some changes and enhancements will occur as they work to help you achieve the most outcomes possible for your PR investment.
And finally, give PR professionals time to do what they do best. Dedication, openness and follow-through are important on your part. Give them time to soak it all in and turn out some excellent advice. Start today by contacting Axia Public Relations, a national leader in key public relations tools and strategies.
by Jason Mudd, APR
Note: I want to credit Tony Mikes and my friends at Second Wind Network who published a blog post for advertising agency clients that inspired me to publish this blog post for public relations clients.
Jason Mudd, APR, is the CEO of Axia Public Relations and 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, Dave & Buster’s, Brightway Insurance, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles and Verizon.