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There is good public relations and there’s bad.
Let’s face it, some organizations, people and agencies are good at it, and some are not.
But when you are in the thick of it, when you’re spending the money, how do you know?
Oh, that’s quite simple, you wait five months and then look at the coverage you achieved. Wait a minute, did someone in the back utter that they move quicker than that and they don’t want to wait five months? What, you actually want to know now if you are spending time and money wisely? OK, well in that case, there are six sure fire signs of good public relations.
1 – First up, you better have a strategy. A clear, concise strategy. Can you (or the person/agency in charge) define in half a page: - the target market that needs to be reached - the media used to reach it - the message that needs to be communicated - the desired action of the target market - the media tools that will be used to achieve that - and when they will be used?
If you can’t then you’re running your PR strategy in an ad-hoc manner, which is not going to give you the results you need. The number one tell-tail signs is inconsistency… in regards to when coverage is achieved, who it reaches or the messages it conveys.
2 – How are your relationships? It doesn’t matter how great your strategy is if your PR team doesn’t have the best media relationships to get it delivered. This is where larger teams have the advantage. I’ve yet to meet one person who gets on with everyone. So it stands to reason that if you have a one-person team or freelancer on your PR they can’t have relationships with all the core media. It takes a diverse team of people at various seniority and experience level to be able to hold all the core relationships.
This is doubly important if your target includes multiple social-economic targets or possibly more than one language. Look at the make up of the journalists and editors you are trying to reach and make sure your team are similar.
3 – Responsiveness and consistency rules. PR is not a tap you can just turn on or off as you feel. It’s more like a snowball pushed down a hill - once started it will keep on rolling and growing if you treat it right (and if you don’t treat it right it’s like putting a tree in front of the snowball). To keep that snowball rolling and growing you need to be ever responsive to the media (never leave a man hanging) and you need to ensure you fuel the media machine with consistent, newsworthy and relevant information.
Tell-tail signs - if your PR team can’t respond to you within a coupe of hours, then they are not responding to the media quickly either. And if you don’t have a constant funnel of news and ideas being worked on, then it’s akin to your snowball rolling over concrete.
4 – Reporting and feedback. At NettResults we make it simple for all our team members: for a successful client/agency relationship there are two things that drive success – media results need to be obtained and there needs to be constant reporting with the client. A campaign that has great results, but there is little client/agency interaction or lack of reporting, will fail.
Media relations is a constant feedback loop. Multiple minds need to plan it out and everyone needs to be watching what is working and what is successful. This is the only way that momentum can be gained and we can drive a higher return on investment.
5 – Business acumen. Look at it this way - there’s this funnel. At the bottom of the funnel is PR, above that is marketing and above that is ‘the business’. While I’ve had bosses that have said to me they can write a press release about anything, irrespective of whether they understand the subject, you can’t play in the PR space successfully unless you understand business.
Much as we would like to think that media and PR teams are the bees-knees – there is always a higher being that is driving the business. The PR team needs to be aware of this and have a true understanding and respect for when PR plans need to be modified due to a business requirement. Tell-tail signs – have a conversation with your PR team about your business, not the latest PR news, but about the actual business. Do they talk sense?
6 – Is there a level of trust? What this all comes down to is trust. A client needs to be able to trust that their team/agency is proactively working on their behalf. There has to be bilateral trust between the PR team/agency and the media.
More than most industries I have witnessed, trust is central to PR success. Like all professional service business, we’re talking about a professional’s time. How it’s being used and how efficient it is. We’re talking about abstract terms. We’re talking about things that people get emotional about. Wrap that all up and the lubricant that keeps the cogs turning is trust.
These six simple concepts will give you good insight into how successful your results will look in five months.