What to expect when working with PR agencies

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Being a startup founder is endlessly busy work. A small team building a household name from the ground up can seem a daunting prospect. But with a PR agency on board, your fantastic idea can be catapulted into the Goliath you know it can be. It takes a career lifetime to build the knowledge of the PR landscape and the contacts that PR agencies have, but, for you, that expertise and contacts list is unlocked as soon as collaboration begins.

Working with a PR agency is a bit like having a pocket rocket marketing partner. They are always there, operating in the background. Then, when you need that real push, PR agencies blast into action and make it happen. PR, Events, Social Media, Influencer Engagement, Speaking and Consulting are the bread and butter of agencies. These areas are hugely important when growing a business, as they are often the first things that an audience will see of a company. To take just one example: you can be sure that if your social media accounts look unloved and unkempt then a prospective customer will be put off from buying your product. If these key areas are not your forte, it makes perfect sense to take the weight off your shoulders and dedicate your time to growing other areas of your business, leaving the PR and Communications to the experts. There are many agencies, ready to use their long-established connections and well-honed skills to solidify your brand in the 21st century.

What to expect

As with every partnership, one must expect a certain amount of bad with the good. The understanding of a sector and generation of visible, quantifiable results can be difficult to grasp at first. Although it’s possible to transform your business into an overnight success story, PR agencies cannot guarantee it will happen quickly. But you can be assured all PR muscles will be flexed to make it happen as soon and efficiently as possible. When you’re a startup starting from zero, it’s about gaining momentum over time.

Having regular and open dialogue is essential. PR agencies will fire ideas at you and the quicker your response is received, the quicker PR agencies can get on with implementing those ideas. In the world of social media, news stories fade into the cyber abyss very quickly. So, if say a PR agency secured you an interview with a high-profile publication, it would be essential to reciprocate enthusiasm right away, so the agency can strike whilst the iron is hot. Any foot-dragging could mean missing out on opportunities.

In this way, your success is also the agency’s success. Regular catch-ups are an excellent way to track and measure performance. Setting clear goals initially is key to the work that PR agencies do. The more that they know about you and your business, the more efficient adopting your house style becomes and the quicker work can get started.

How to work effectively together

Working together is a key aspect of a PR agency and client relationship, it is important to do this at an optimal level. You can trust the agency to be doing the job that was agreed upon and you will be notified on progress toward the agreed goals in reporting.

But a great agency will also give you the strategic input and insight to feedback on the ideas you may have - and this is where you need to be open to receiving friendly criticism and open to sharing a lot of information on what is happening in your company. Visibility is key for PR to success. A strong partner wants to ensure you look great at the right time, to the best audience, across multiple channels - agencies come with lots of experience, so take onboard the feedback and suggestions they provide.

Dealing with rejection is a huge part of PR, so it is important to recognise this and not be disheartened. A story could take months of preparation but then eventually not run at all. This might be because of various reasons, from a change of plans from the editorial board to having to compete with breaking news. However, you can be certain that if the PR agency can see how your product could fit into a media conversation, then it will know who would be interested in it - and can get that pitch onto their desk.

Bill Gates recognised the value of PR - and he made a pretty good success of his business. One of his famous quotes is exactly about his approach towards this type of work: “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on Public Relations.”

So what are you waiting for...?

BY JAMIE GRIFFIN, JUNIOR AT CEW COMMS.