The relationship between client and PR agency must be based on honesty. Success may be limited if your agency simply says, “yes,” to everything and is afraid to tell you the unvarnished truth. If they do, they are not doing you any favors or earning their retainer. PR pros who are afraid to rock the boat may not be giving you the best advice and the result will be a less successful implementation of their strategy. Here are 5 things that your PR agency should be telling you to maximize results:
- If your positioning is not differentiating your firm from competitors.
When potential clients search for a firm, they are looking for that special ingredient that meets or exceeds their expectations. If you strip away your firm’s name and the description sounds like every other competitor out there, then you’re left with no advantage. The PR agency is then working with one hand tied behind their back. Before launching a PR plan, dig deep into what you do that truly sets you apart and then articulate it in your positioning and across your messaging.
- If the marketing materials you are using to promote your firm are off message, dated or simply not high quality.
This includes website, logo, social media channels, email blasts, etc. Many creative service/design firms have a shoemaker’s children mentality: they spend the bulk of their time focused on client work and simply ignore what they must do for themselves. That’s a recipe for disaster. If you don’t have the bandwidth or staff to do it, then look to use outside resources. Do for yourselves what you do for your clients.
- If the story you want to pitch is not newsworthy or is too self-serving.
If a story idea is dated (ie: has been covered already in the media), is too focused on your own services, or lacks a new angle, journalists will not be interested. They get pitched story ideas hundreds of times a day and they will only pay attention if you’re offering something they can’t get elsewhere. That’s why PR pros spend so much time developing great pitches that will get you noticed. If a pitch doesn’t land somewhere, it’s simply not timely and compelling.
- If you need media training.
Anticipating and answering reporter’s questions (whether in person, over the phone or on-air) takes special skills. Most individuals who are really good at it are trained to speak in sound bites. Meandering answers can result in misquotes and lost messages. Taking the time for media training will help you to hone key messages and to be relaxed and responsive to challenging questions.
- If your message and/or point-of-view is either dated or uninspiring.
We’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: If you want to be a thought leader, you need to think and use your expertise and insights to come up with a viewpoint that’s different from what everyone else is saying. If 5 experts are interviewed for a story and 4 of them say basically the same thing, then their chances or being included in the story are slim. That fifth expert will shine and get the most ink. Take the time to develop and articulate a creative (and honest) opinion. You’ll become the go-to source for the media and isn’t that why you hired a PR agency in the first place?
Select a PR firm that has extensive knowledge of your industry and established media contacts. Listen to their advice, be respectful of their relationships with the media and do not take criticism personally. Their success leads to your success.