Monday 21 May 2012

How to make PR work?

It’s always tougher to maintain a relationship than start one. How does one keep it exciting enough for all parties involved to stay interested?  You have taken on a PR agency and/or have an in-house department. Its starts off well with good output initially.
Usually after a while PR exercises tend to lose steam. You take your PR agency/in-house department for granted. PR is an engaging exercise. The success of the agency/dept depends largely on the depth of involvement of the two parties. I’ve seen good PR agencies fail simply because their client servicing team is not spending enough time interacting with Business, Marketing and Sales teams.  It could be because they have too many clients to handle and therefore too little time for a client. On the other hand, clients also assume that PR will self-run and agency/dept will keep getting results out of thin air. It eventually doesn’t work out.
So what can you do to make it work?
For You
  • Be sure you need/want PR in the first place, not because your competition or friends have a leading agency on board
  • Stay committed and get your team’s ‘buy in’ to the concept. PR and its impact has to be understood by the teams in house first, else there will be no knowledge sharing.  I’ve this seen this several times, the last one being – a new sales team that had no clue of PR – was asked to manage the PR agency and include PR expenses in their sales budgets! Needless to say, the sales team soon decided they don’t need PR (for a growing brand)!
  • Get your agency/department to spend time with your key people across teams educating them on PR
  • Share business progress, challenges and achievements with your PR team lead from time to time. It will help formulate focussed and meaningful strategies.
  • Stay focussed and involved in PR. You need not spend as much time later as you did in the beginning but one has to keep an eye on monthly plans, reports and success rate. It will help if you ask for these and review progress regularly so it’s not too late before you realise it’s gone off track.
For the PR Agency/Dept
  • Push the client for inputs even if you feel guilty about taking their time away from other important work
  • Do not wait for inputs/info. Go find it. Talk to key people in the organisation. Build relationships with them so there is an easy flow of information. It will be easier for you to spot opportunities and ideas where company personnel may not be able to.
  • If you think there isn’t enough dough for PR, have an open chat with key people stating the challenges and find solutions. It also does help at times to take third party expert opinion. Stay connected/clued on to customers, media, competition regularly – you may be able get insightful ideas.
Only a long-term perspective and commitment makes PR really tick (this I say for both clients and agencies). This goes hand in hand with business goals. Short term targeted spurts are nice as long as they are in sync with long term objectives. After all, brands are not built in a day.