How to make a PR agency / client relationship work

PR agencies and clients both need to give and take. Some important things for clients to consider to ensure that a project or retainer agreement work successfully are:

  1. Be very clear what you want to get out of the relationship – is it to be known in a specific vertical, dominate a technology space, launch a new product or service.  Whatever your objective is be very clear about it.
  2. Be sure YOU can deliver your end of the bargain. You may have just signed up the biggest client ever but if they are unwilling to support the claim, then taking on an agency to promote this is obviously the wrong thing to do. Get your clients agreement up front.
  3. Don’t be an also ran. Be different – have a unique value proposition or key messages and back them up with third party references, be they clients, partners or a academics or analysts. Prove that what you have is compelling.
  4. Stick to timescales and give your agency the time they deserve. Unexpected things happen all the time and projects will overrun – that’s okay.   But if a piece of work overruns because you’re too busy to talk to  your agency, then there is a danger that the PR effort won’t deliver what you expected and frankly your not using the PR investment correctly.  Make time for your agency.
  5. Don’t expect miracles.  Agencies are creative and should be able to spot a story angle, but sometimes what you think is earth shattering, just isn’t going to cut it in newsland. We call those stories tier 2 stories – good for SEO, your website, social media and your maybe customers and partners but don’t bother your trade publications or nationals with tales of version 3.8.5 which offers one bug fix.
  6. Communicate and listen to your agency.  They need to know what is going on in your company. Don’t surprise them by asking for a press release on a new strstegic direction for issue the next day. A good PR company agency should be treated like your internal team are (or even better;-).
  7. And don’t make them keep having to chase you.  If you said you would do something by a certain date then do it or tell them another date. A lot of agency fee can be spent on chasing clients rather than meeting journalists or doing client work.
  8. Understand that PR is a long term investment. You may get a spike in traffic on your website or more calls following a PR initiative, but once you have converted any strong leads what happens then?  Keep the momentum going.
  9. Make the right level of financial commitment. If you want to be in The Times, you will most likely need to create a story to support your business goals.  Depending on what your company is offering, a story may need a report or research to back it up, especially for the business pages. Research isn’t cheap but it can be reused for other marketing activity.  Also, be very clear that one day of PR agency time per month may not get you the really big goals you want to achieve.

    These are just a few thoughts and I will try to add to them later, but pls feel free to add your own.

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