The ‘secret sauce’ that will help you cook up a storm with public relations

by Scott Douglas

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Our insider’s guide to the essential ingredients for a PR success story

Public relations agency in Edinburgh guide on choosing the best PR agency for your businessDon’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.


PR experts write insider's guide to choosing the right PR AgencyWHAT has Kung Fu Panda got to do with public relations? Admittedly it’s probably not a question that’s been keeping anyone awake at night.

Yet the modern animated blockbuster from the DreamWorks studios offered at least one major insight with real relevance to the world of PR agencies.

How come? One of the most crucial pivotal scenes in the movie is when Po (the panda from the title) learns the secret ingredient in his adoptive father’s legendary noodle soup recipe.

He is left stunned when his dad, Mr Ping, tells him: “The secret ingredient is … nothing! You heard me. Nothing! There is no secret ingredient.”

Hopefully this won’t come as too much of a letdown, but there is no secret sauce for public relations success. No magic formula, no dark arts, no special powers and no sacred knowledge.

Just lots of hard work, passion, careful thought and a constant appetite for learning. With that in mind there are definitely key ingredients you should be looking for when you are considering hiring a public relations agency to work with your business or organisation?


Award winning public relations agencyWith experience comes confidence in your own abilities and an understanding of your limitations. Which means the best PR agencies will not only tell you what they can do – they’ll be only too happy to walk away from projects which aren’t in their skill set.

Doing something extremely well takes years of practice, dedication and drive. It’s that kind of clear focus and knowledge of their strengths that define the best PR agencies. Our advice to businesses is when searching for an agency, be clear about the services you want and consider using different specialists for different needs, such as political lobbying, search engine optimisation (SEO), marketing or web design.

Our advice to businesses is when searching for an agency, be clear about the services you want and consider using different specialists for different needs, such as political lobbying, search engine optimisation (SEO), marketing or web design.

Ask any public relations agency you are dealing with to explain their core competencies and to be clear about the services they offer. The best PR agencies will not only be happy to do so, they’ll provide detailed case studies of their PR success stories.

At our Edinburgh PR agency you’ll find the public relations services we offer clearly explained – and all of them are clearly related to our storytelling abilities.

Those abilities are clearly demonstrated thanks to the daily updates to our website, in our detailed case studies and in our award section.


This is an essential part of any PR service.

If you want to be sure that a potential PR partner will make every effort to understand your business, then check out how well they have fared in other, challenging sectors.

Any agency which has delivered impressive results in technical, difficult-to-understand or unglamorous subject areas can probably be relied on to put in whatever effort necessary to learn about your sector.

SAY HELLO TO SEXY PRScottish public relations agency Holyrood PR in Edinburgh offers a guide to sexy PR for any business ­- Any business can be sexy enough for public relations success, even if their work isn’t glamorous – and we’ve proved it time after time. This series of posts shows how a wee bit of imagination transformed the media profile and success of various unglamorous companies


But understanding goes beyond demonstrating a grasp of what you actually do. It is also about demonstrating a clear awareness of which media, trade press and specialist outlets are most important to your business. So challenge a PR agency to demonstrate how it has proven itself in a number of specialist niches.

Understanding is also about working with you to achieve clear comprehension of your objectives, to show a deep appreciation of how to measure results and the impact on your bottom line.

So it is also worth quizzing a potential agency about how they measure the effectiveness of PR – beyond simply counting mentions in the media.

We’ve built an enviable reputation as a public relations agency that get results for clients who have all but given up on ever enjoying media success.

That’s because we take the time to understand those clients – and ally it with our deep understanding of story spotting, storytelling and what makes the media tick.


Gold and Silver SaleIf a potential PR agency can’t clearly explain how they charge, be very wary indeed.

Knowing the value of the product or service you sell is a business fundamental. So why should it be remotely difficult to explain?

Transparency is essential to develop trust in your working relationship. If you are reviewing potential public relations agency partners, ask them exactly how they work out their fees. Do they charge by the hour or by the day? Do they have different rates for staff of different experience levels?

It will also be useful to know how they record the time staff spend on your account – do they keep timesheets or some other system for logging time invested on your behalf.

Transparency should also be evident in the targets and expectations you set. Any self-respecting public relations agency will work with you to set clear and transparent goals and objectives. They will also be totally transparent about the measurement and evaluation of those results.

Crystal clarity is also a must when it comes to reporting those results. What format will your reports take and when will you see them and who will they go to?

Similarly you should ask a public relations agency to explain the sign off procedures they have used successfully with other clients. Why? Because the thing you need to be clearest about is that nothing will ever be sent out in your name without your absolute approval.

Our Scottish PR agency is transparent about everything – including putting all of our work (and the results generated) on our website daily.

We are also transparent about our costs and you will find them clearly and publicly stated on our website. Likewise we are fastidious about sign off procedures, reporting systems. We’re so fanatical about evaluation of results that we won a sought after industry award for our efforts.

You’ll find all of these commitments enshrined in our Credentials document – which again is publicly accessible and viewable on our website.

If you are wrestling with how to choose a PR agency that’s right for your business, we hope this advice will help you whittle down the shortlist.

 Find out how our public relations agency could benefit your business.

If you like what you’ve read here and think Holyrood PR in Edinburgh is the kind of public relations agency you’d like to work, then call us on 0131 561 2244 or fill in the form below and we’ll get straight back to you:

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Scott Douglas, of public relations agency Holyrood PR in Scotland

Scott Douglas

Scott Douglas is the co-founder of the multi award-winning Holyrood PR, 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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