Choosing a PR agency is a bit like online dating.
You do your best to outline your company’s values, objectives and goals during the initial RFP process in the hopes that you’ll attract the best candidates. It can also be difficult to understand exactly what each agency is capable of and how PR can help B2B companies.
Then, during several in-person meetings, you generally have less than one hour to decide if this person is worth your time and effort. It can all be exhausting – especially since you know you’re going to run into a few frogs along the way.
But when you do finally find a PR agency that works for you, it can be a wonderful thing for both your company and its reputation. However, most of us don’t have the time (or the patience) for the lengthy courtship known as the ‘official onboarding process.’ Fortunately, there are nine key ways how PR can help B2B companies (and ensure the celebration of a first anniversary):
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1) Outline Clear Goals & Expectations At The Beginning
Just like dating, it’s important to outline your goals and expectations at the very beginning of your relationship. Are you looking for press coverage in every major trade publication to raise general awareness or would you prefer one feature story that highlights a new product? Do you need new sales collateral, a refreshed website or trade show support?
Make sure to let your agency know. Most importantly, if your definition of success changes over time, communicate it to your team so you can both celebrate your successes at the end of the year.
2) Set Clear Parameters For Communications & Processes
It’s important to remember that your PR team should be an asset, not an annoyance. Make sure to share your communication preferences and coordinate ongoing status calls to ensure everyone is on the same page.
If you hate multiple emails, request that the agency sends one daily note with project updates and requests. If you’re more of a phone person, schedule weekly conference calls. Additionally, if you’re looking for a specific type of deliverable or measurement report, let your PR team know so they can send it to you on a consistent basis.
3) Be Upfront About Past Successes & Failures
When conceptualizing a comprehensive PR plan, it’s vital to share what has worked for your company in the past and what hasn’t. Based on the information you share, your PR team will be able to provide you with recommendations and strategies that leverage your company’s strengths while simultaneously minimizing its weaknesses. After all, there’s no need to make the same mistakes twice.
4) Don’t Hesitate To Send Ample Background Information
This tip is pretty self-explanatory, but don’t feel bad sending your agency any and all information that pertains to your business and industry. Some of the best PR ideas come from product sell sheets or executive biographies. PR pros can never have too many resources!
5) Provide Feedback Regularly & Address Issues ASAP
As a general rule, plan to schedule a weekly or bi-weekly check-in with your agency to discuss ongoing projects and initiatives. This provides the perfect time to celebrate successes or discuss things that aren’t working in the plan.
Additionally, if something or someone is concerning you, speak up! It’s better to address issues as they arise to avoid a bigger conflict down the road.
6) Leverage Your Team’s Areas Of Expertise
It’s important to remember that you hired a PR team for a reason. Whether you’re looking to raise your company’s profile, announce a new product with earned media relations or identify a crisis communications strategy, a good PR team should be able to listen to what you’re saying and provide a road map to reach your goals.
At the same time, there may be instances when you’re unfamiliar with a specific tactic or initiative. These occasions provide the perfect time for you to leverage your team for maximum results.
7) Transparency & Collaboration Is Key
If you’re aware of something that can ultimately affect your communications plan, it’s important to share with your agency in a timely manner to ensure they have the chance to respond appropriately.
It’s better to run possible issues by your team if you have any questions instead of taking a chance on something that could develop into a full-scale PR crisis. Additionally, remember that the best solutions and ideas often come from collaboration, which can only be achieved through communication.
8) Be Flexible & Open To New Ideas
We’ve all seen creative ideas that didn’t work. But something truly unique and special will elevate your brand and potentially create an immeasurable buzz.
So, try to remain open to new ideas. Your willingness to entertain new or unique ideas is fuel for agencies’ creative fires. While we understand that many of our ideas will never be implemented, knowing that you are open to trying them helps to keep us thinking on your behalf.
Not every one will be a home run, but as Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”
9) Don’t Be Afraid To Challenge Your Agency And Yourself
Like you, PR agencies want to see their clients’ brands succeed. Encourage them to think critically and creatively in an effort to reach your company’s goals. Most importantly, feel free to shake things up to avoid boredom.
At the end of the day, PR should excite people and elevate your brand – not replicate what everyone else in the industry is already doing.
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