Make PR Work for Your Business
Engaging in an effective PR campaign can help increase your profile and drive sales in an increasingly tough marketplace.
However, before you begin planning your PR campaign for next year, here are a few key points to remember.
Agency or go it alone?
If you are planning a PR campaign, your natural instinct may be to try and carry out the work yourself.
However, before you start, it is vital to measure input versus output — will you be working twice as long for half the results, compared to an agency with years of experience and a black book stuffed with media contacts?
In the current economic climate, we are all looking for the most cost–effective options. So price is something that may sway your decision regarding going with an agency or going it alone.
PR does not need to cost the earth. An agency that wants your business should be able to work with your budget; therefore price becomes less of an issue.
Ultimately, these things are more important than the price:
- Feeling confident in the ability of the agency;
- Believing in the agency’s business ethics;
- Finding the agency’s team easy to get on with.
If you don’t feel confident in the first five minutes of meeting a prospective agency, it is more than likely not for you — regardless of how much or how little the cost.
Enjoying a comfort level between your company and the PR team is critical for a successful campaign.
To achieve your objectives, you must be able to view the agency as partners — an extension of your team.
That’s easy to say when budgets are tight!
Are you getting bang for your buck?
In some instances, it is difficult to say for sure that your story will get picked up by the media. The situation is generally dependent on what’s happening in the news — a breaking story will always take priority.
However, to have greater confidence in the outcome, you should get a clear breakdown of the following from the agency:
- What stories the agency will pitch;
- Which publications the agency will target;
- What date the agency will publish the stories.
To test whether an agency is up to the job, get them to spend an hour doing a pitch of the bare bones of their ideas before they carry out the work. This will show if their ideas are newsworthy and if the media contacts are right.
Once you have agreed the activity, you will feel confident in knowing what is planned and when it is due to appear. Then the agency can get on with doing their job of getting you results.
Traditional vs. digital
We have all been told that digital marketing/social media/online PR is something that should be on our radar. I agree that it has transformed the PR industry over the last few years.
However, when planning a PR campaign, you should view digital with caution.
Not all campaigns need to be digital — in the same way that not all campaigns need to be traditional (i.e. in newspapers).
Having clear objectives will help you decide which medium will work for you. In most cases a mix of both will work best.
How do you view success?
Every company measures success differently. Success might mean:
- An increase in traffic to your site;
- A certain number of attendees at an event;
- Press articles that feature your company prominently.
Be clear from the start what success means. Write down what you want to achieve. If you don’t, then no matter what you achieve during the campaign, you will never be satisfied and feel that it was a flop.
Measurement is a key requirement that allows you to evaluate success. It is not unreasonable to ask the agency for a weekly update for a short-term project and a monthly breakdown for an ongoing project.
By doing this, you will see what is working and what isn’t. This allows you to reallocate the budget to ensure that you are getting value for money.
Remember: PR isn’t just a numbers game. Nor is it just about media coverage. To decide whether a campaign has been a long–term success, you need to evaluate factors such as:
- Developing positive relationships with the media;
- Awareness both internally and within the wider business community.
These less–obvious PR measurements can reveal a lot about your achievements. Over time, you’ll see trends emerge. Act on them in the right way and you will help grow sales.
Make PR your resolution
Ultimately, the key to success is to make PR your resolution. Focus on making sure that you actually start a campaign and conduct it within a realistic timeframe.
Remember, it’s not a short–term fix. It should be a long–term strategy.
Just the way a resolution should be.