So, you’ve decided that your brand needs a helping hand to get cut-through in today’s cut-throat consumer driven market. You’re set with the advertising campaign but a bit unsure on what PR even is, let alone what its benefits are. Isn’t it all just spin? Don’t today’s marketing savvy consumers see through PR fluff these days?
This is exactly the attitude that a switched on PR agency will dispel immediately. Good PR can boost your sales, increase your own profile (or that of your company’s) within the industry and enhance consumer brand awareness. If you approach PR with the right attitude (and know a little about it), it will become an essential element of your brand’s marketing mix.
When it comes to PR, and getting the most out of those monthly retainer fees, the most important thing to remember is: stories do not write themselves. Your PR agency should be able to come up with a few story angles and even organise a few promo events to generate coverage in the social pages. But, if you have nothing interesting to say about your brand, then what do you expect journalists to pen stories about? Unfortunately, PR agencies cannot manufacture stories from thin air. Newspaper column inches are highly sort after (and highly expensive if you are paying for them in advertising dollars); journalists will not give them away for fluff.
The key is to brief your PR agency thoroughly. Make sure they know what’s going on in your business. Make sure they understand your products. Make sure they know who your target audience is. Make sure they meet all your key staff. And, most importantly, make sure they know what is on the horizon for your business. Believe it or not, magazines often work up to three months in advance. So, if you want coverage in Cosmo for that new line of lipstick you are releasing in November, you had better have your PR agency hounding the journos in August.
If you are the face of the business, get media trained. There is nothing more frustrating for a journalist than going to the trouble of setting up an interview, doing background research and organising a photographer only to find that the subject is a dud. A dud doesn’t know what their key messages are, what they are trying to sell or what attitude they want to get across. If this is the case, chances are your interview will be boring (and go unpublished) or, even worse, you will do more harm than good to your brand.
Make sure you help give your PR agency the tools they need to do a good job. One of the most important tools for a PR agency is high resolution, print ready images. If a journalist is interested in running a story (based on one of your PR agency’s media releases), one of the first requests will be for an image to accompany it. So, if your PR agency wants to set up a product photo shoot or even a photo shoot to get some headshots of your key employees, this is not to create extra work for you. This is to ensure bigger, better exposure for your brand.
Be prepared to invest some of your time in the PR exercise. While your PR agency will be able to work autonomously for the majority of time, they will need your input. They will need approvals on media releases. They might need you to give an interview to a journalist. They might even need you to attend a photo shoot. Most of all, they will want to meet face-to-face on a regular basis; it’s the easiest way to find out what’s happening in your business.
Make sure you don’t set unreasonable (or simply unattainable) goals for your PR agency. PR is a long-term investment. It won’t happen overnight. You won’t be on television tomorrow. Journalists received hundreds of media releases every day. It will take time for them to get to yours. But a good PR agency will make sure that they do get to yours. If PR is used as a long-term marketing tool, journalists will inevitably start to approach you for stories and information. You might become their preferred industry expert to quote in stories. They might start asking you for product information (rather than receiving it unsolicited from your PR agency).
Employing a PR agency to raise the profile your brand should be one of the most beneficial marketing strategies you employee. If you follow the tips above, your relationship with your PR agency should flourish, alongside consumer awareness of your brand.
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