Make the most of people power in your public relations success
Friday, January 2nd, 2015
The questions any business should ask when choosing the right PR experts
Don’t let the challenges of finding a PR agency keep you from enjoying the business benefits of successful public relations. Here’s our PR Starter Pack, an essential guide to finding the right fit.
PUBLIC relations is a people business. So how can you be sure you’ll have the right PR people working with you? When do you need the grizzled PR veteran and when do you want the dynamic junior team member?
While researching a possible PR agency partner for your business, it is likely you will have many questions about the members of the agency team you will be working with.
Are they experienced enough to handle your account? How often should you hear from them? And how can you tell if they have a real passion for your business?
Here is our insider’s guide to making sure your PR people measure up.
Who’ll be working on my account?
As with any kind of business, public relations agencies have staff with a huge variety of skills, experience and abilities.
It’s a common complaint from unhappy PR clients that they saw the top man or woman at the start of the relationship, then never saw them again.
The best PR agencies will tell you who will be your senior contact throughout your contract – and you will see them at least monthly and be able to contact them at any time. However, if you expect to see and work with the most senior person all the time then be prepared to pay a premium.
Of course we all have to start somewhere – and experience can only be earned on the job. So it is likely more junior staff will also be involved in servicing your account. Such junior team members can bring energy and fresh thinking to an account.
The best public relations agencies will make sure that more junior staff are carefully monitored and evaluated so that you never experience any dip in service quality. They will also encourage rigorous training and continuous learning. So ask a prospective PR agency partner about the training and accreditation programme they offer to staff at every level of their organisation.
In an ideal world, you’d have the same people working on your account without interruption. Realistically, just like in your profession, staff will change and move on. A change of personnel on your PR account shouldn’t be a cause for concern – as long as those working on your behalf understand your business, your PR objectives and continue to deliver results.
That kind of clarity and continuity comes from the top, so where you really want consistency is at the senior level in your PR agency. Did we mention that our Edinburgh PR agency is run by the same two people who founded it in 2002?
How often should my PR people be in touch with me?
Every client is different but a general rule of thumb is that the more time you can put in, the more your PR agency can deliver for you.
Yet top PR professionals appreciate that your time is best spent taking care of your own business, so will work smartly to get as much as possible from every meeting or phone call.
They’ll also know when to back off and when to push you that wee bit harder.
At an absolute minimum a quality public relations agency will want to meet with clients at least once a month for a full catch up.
The rest of the contact process should be driven to suit you. Our experience says that the ideal situation is when you’re in touch with your PR team several times a week, but that it is not only painless but also a rewarding process.
The best public relations agencies will provide you with a monthly report that clearly states the work carried out on your behalf, the results delivered and the next phase of work to be delivered.
What experience should my PR people have?
There’s something extremely reassuring about sitting down with professionals who have been around the block.
It’s no coincidence that we say you have to earn your stripes (or your spurs). That means putting in the long hours, the hard graft and learning the tough lessons.
In a world which increasingly seems to be about the next big thing, transient fads and the cult of pointless celebrity, real, hard-earned and weighty experience really counts.
In public relations that means you should be looking for PR experts who have:
- delivered effective campaigns that made a demonstrable bottom-line difference for clients
- handled crises and ensured their clients came out the other end in good shape
- built up extensive media contacts
Don’t be shy to ask a prospective PR agency to provide examples of such experience. And don’t be shy to check out the huge wealth of experience offered by our expert PR team, including our founding directors.
But it’s not all about the old hands. Youthful vigour and fresh thinking can complement experience.
That’s why we are so proud that talented members of our team have been nominated for Young Communicator of the Year four times, an outstanding record which shows our commitment to making sure valuable experience is passed on.
How can I tell if the PR people have a passion for my product or service?
How many people do you meet in daily life with a real fire in the belly for the work they do?
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the many people who dutifully turn up every day and perform an honest day’s work in whatever is their chosen field. But everything is taken to a different level when you get the chance to work with people who display a real passion for their craft, including in the world of public relations.
The PR worlds is not a sterile environment – it is lively, varied and endlessly interesting. Bear that in mind when researching any public relations agency you might be thinking about working with, because it will make you look at them in a different light.
Do they get across the passion, colour and creativity of their work on their website? In their proposal documents? On their social media profiles? Why not ask for a simple face-to-face meeting with the people you may end up working with?
While you can’t read too much into whether a person is laid back or energetic, real passion will always shine through.
At Holyrood PR in Edinburgh our passion is easily summed up in why we do what we do: we believe that stories are at the heart of every successful business and when they are well told to the right audience it increases profits and makes better places to work.
Hopefully that passion shines through in our daily website posts and our weekly video updates all dedicated to the client work we love being involved with.
Find out how our expert PR people can help your business
We are proud that our Scottish PR agency is made up of award winning individuals with a real passion for what we do and why we do it.
If you would like our help to boost your business and increase your bottom line, contact us now by calling 0131 561 2244 or fill in the form below and we will get back to you:
Scott Douglas is the co-founder of the multi award-winning Holyrood Partnership, renowned public relations agency in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As well as providing expert PR services in Scotland and the UK, the former journalist heads a team which offers a host of other professional media services.
Those include crisis management PR, photography for business PR, affordable business video, social media campaigns and strategic content planning and delivery for businesses of all sizes.
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