Public relations is a vital component of any brand’s marketing strategy. Through consistent, deliberate, and strategic storytelling, it builds a brand’s awareness and credibility, as well as strengthens relationships.
But brands sometimes use PR as a one-stop marketing strategy to fix whatever ails them, assuming that in eliciting the aid of an agency, their name will be splashed about in the press and revenue will suddenly skyrocket. And it’s just not that simple—this gap between expectations and reality doesn’t benefit either side of the PR firm/client relationship.
In an attempt to strengthen this relationship, let’s add some transparency to the conversation about how PR firms and brands can best work together.
1. Approach PR as part of a larger strategy
Most brands understand that to generate results and maximize ROI, they need to use PR, marketing, and advertising to generate leads and sales.
Frequently, prospective clients approach my firm with goals like driving sales or announcing a capital raise, asking what we can do. Before we can answer, the potential clients need to fill in blanks about upcoming news, how their products are innovative, and whether customers and investors will go on the record. Only then can we thoughtfully consider how we can work together.
PR can reinforce a brand’s presence and message, but rarely does it build one from scratch. PR is a formidable weapon in your campaign arsenal, but in the digital world, a brand shouldn’t stop there. They should also think about ad campaigns, email marketing, SEO, and social media, to name a few.
2. Understand why your company exists
Before a PR firm can begin a communication campaign, the brand must have a well-defined image, story and values. Brands that can’t identify what they stand for, where they come from, and who they’re targeting need to do some soul searching before anything else. While PR firms can help you think about and capture these things, they can’t pull these elements out of thin air.
3. Tailor your message
Like many things in life, there isn’t one PR campaign template that applies to every company. Today, brand communications is all about authenticity, which means messaging should be tailored to your unique brand and audience. The right PR campaign for your brand may not be right for your widget-producing neighbor, the biggest brands in America, or even your competitors.
4. Define and agree on objectives
While we have metrics to measure lots of data today, very little exists to standardize whether a PR team is doing a good job. You can look at traffic numbers, you can benchmark media coverage month-to-month, you can leverage Google Analytics and other platforms, but because there are no standardized metrics, PR firms and clients need to align upfront about objectives, communicating and collaborating from there.
5. Work as true partners
A PR firm should be an extension of your brand. That means clients should include PR firms in strategy meetings and work together like true partners. Without regular collaboration and insight, you’re doing PR (and yourself) an injustice—you can’t just hand dollars over to a PR firm, ask for some media, and reappear a few weeks later to assess progress. It’s not the best use of your spend, and it won’t yield the best results.