By Lucy Davison, Founder & Managing Director, Keen as Mustard Marketing
We are often asked about our PR services, however, very often MRX clients have little or no idea of what PR is all about. So, if you are thinking of, or are already, working with a PR agency, here are six things you need to know to get the best out of that relationship.
1. Discuss and agree what success looks like at the outset
Sharing goals and expectations will help the PR agency achieve your targets. Tell them what your broader business strategy is and ask how they can help you. In order to understand if our PR activity is working, we do a benchmark study to understand a client’s reputation at the outset, work out how they want to change, and track that. This can be as simple as us carrying out some short interviews with key influencers, but you might have some external awareness or brand studies an agency could use.
We also use more tangible measures such as media coverage reach and impact, social media shares and followers, web traffic, conversions, sales, etc. Discuss and agree these elements and how you will understand success together with your agency before you start. Then, keep lines of communication open and share successes along the way.
2. Communicate with the rest of your company
A PR agency often works with their immediate marketing client to develop a fantastic campaign – which no one else in the client company knows about. We’ve won phenomenal coverage of a tech study, which totally poleaxed our client’s sales team and led to a few red faces when their tech clients called to find out more about the research. Despite the study and press release being cleared by seniors, and us reminding them to share it internally, the marketing team had forgotten to tell the rest of the business what was going on.
Plus you will get a lot more benefit from coverage if you use it and share it. Your sales team should use it to open conversations and reinforce relationships with clients. Plus getting exposure is a big motivator for many researchers (never mind investors), improves your culture and makes people proud to work at your company. Use it.
3. Have a differentiated brand and offer
Cars shouldn’t break down. A restaurant should not poison you. An insights company should provide insights and it should do it well. However, very often in technology and MRX, we are asked to communicate something that it’s blindingly obvious the company should be doing anyway. Your agency should know you and your market or sector well enough to be able to help you define what is a story – and what is not. Beyond that, it should help you describe what is different about you and it should recommend PR messages and ideas that support that. Again, your agency should know your market well enough to be able to know what being different means. Expect them to recommend SEO terms, to articulate your tone of voice and to integrate their ideas with the broader marketing mix.
4. Be realistic
You are an insights agency, or a technology company or a data or panel company working in the insights industry. You are not Facebook, or Trump or a member of the British Royal Family (if you are then greetings; my own PR is working well!). Outside of the MRX trade media (of which more below) you are not known. Your PR company will be fighting for attention for you with every other insight agency, technology startup, data or panel company in existence. A non-MRX trade journalist will lump all these companies in together under a generic ‘market research’ or insight heading; chances are they will call you a market research company even if they have been informed otherwise. So be realistic, your agency should get you coverage if you have followed the advice above, but you are not always going to be the feature story.
Finally, within the MRX trades there are very limited opportunities for news stories –there are just three or four US and UK publications that cover news. And they will not cover a story from you very frequently; they want to feature a range of companies.
So, don’t focus on press releases, your agency should focus on coming up with research and opinion pieces as well as thought leadership presentations, webinars and a host of other ideas, to generate broader coverage and exposure in the wider business, technology and marketing media.
5. Give it time
It takes time to establish legitimacy and elevate you above the crowd. So, most PR agencies work on an ongoing monthly retainer basis with clients. This usually means committing to at least six months. Give the PR agency time to do their job –they need to win the trust of journalists on your behalf, and in every case these journalists will have no interest, no time and little brain space for you. There is a lead time with all media— from a few days with bloggers, to three to six months with magazines. Unlike with advertising, PRs cannot control the content or timing of coverage. They will inform, influence, and encourage coverage, but what comes out, and when, is up to the editor.
6. Let them do their job
You are paying the PR agency as experts. So listen to them and take on board their recommendations. Expect them and encourage them to challenge your assumptions.
Don’t try to cut costs by telling them you will write the content for them to pitch. Every single pitch a good PR does will be honed for a particular journalist or publication. If it is not, it will be rejected and need rewriting anyway. Then the PR will have to edit your copy whatever, so pay them to do it and let them do their job. It will be quicker and you will get better results.
Trust your PR agency and realize they want to do a fantastic job for you, because when you look good, they look good.