You pay your PR company to do…PR, but every so often you ask: what do they do all day? Here are six things your agency does when you’re not looking.
OK, I understand they do press releases but is that it? We seem to be getting decent media coverage and social media is looking livelier but what are they actually doing to make this happen?
Agencies spend a lot of time trying to come up with new ideas, a new take on an article or white paper, a new data or survey driven campaign. Some of these will come to nothing and you only get to see the ideas that worked. A good measure for your relationship with the agency is to think how often they come to you with new ideas? If they are any good, they should always be coming to meetings with something fresh, bringing an external perspective and their broader experience of working in your sector.
Taking the pulse
Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum and your agency should be on top of the media, knowing what’s hot at the moment but also tracking trends in the press and on social media in your part of the tech market. If you are always the first to point out a new trend rather than your agency coming to you, then they may not be as engaged as you would hope. They should keep an eye on the competition both from a market intelligence point of view and to learn from any creative approaches that have worked for others that may work for you. Allied to this is the process of actually reading the target media. Nobody wants to see “reading the paper” on a monthly report or time sheet but without it you have no hope of success.
Pitching ideas to the media
A large part of the PR company’s day is spent on email and phone pitches to the media. People new to PR may imagine that if you send out a press release to a standing media list it will get tons of coverage but it just doesn’t work that way. A story needs to be tailored to each individual media outlet and framed in a way that makes it relevant to their readers. This only comes about if your agency reads the actual media they are pitching to and if they build strong relationships with reporters by always pitching relevant story ideas and delivering on their promise.
Managing the campaign
As a client you just want the goodies: the piece of content that will drive traffic to your website, the article in that top tier publication that quote in the national press, but without planning things go awry or don’t happen at all. A lot of time is spent in planning a campaign to make sure you get the best out of your budget then reviewing and controlling activities to ensure things stay on track.
Managing the client relationship
Again this not something you really want to think about because it may not on the surface look like something that is going to deliver for you. But time has to be spent reporting on success (or otherwise), on making sure that the goal posts are still where they were when the campaign started and making sure that the client is happy is engaged. You may not hear from the agency for a few days but they will still be talking to your organisation, getting briefs from subject matter specialists or sales people, trying to secure approval for a customer case study.
Taking care of business
Your agency is also a business and needs to make sure its runs its own affairs professionally otherwise they may not be around long enough to help you. Again not a direct benefit but an agency needs to keep its skill levels up to date and by joining the industry body like the PRCA with access to a range of online and face to face learning programmes that ensure we are one step ahead of the game. And finally the bane of all clients’ lives, the agency needs to try to keep a stable account team together. You don’t want to be constantly being introduced to new team members that you have to bring up to speed. That means the agency investing time in staff and career development.
All professional PR companies are looking for long term relationships so if you don’t see a steady stream of press releases going out it does not mean they are resting on their laurels. It’s all about the results and the above activities are part of the process of getting those results and ensuring long terms success for you and your agency.