Optimising relationships in business is a valuable skill and managing a PR Agency to help get the best possible results requires an open and honest approach. Having been managed by many clients for the past three decades, SRF’s creative director, Stephen Forster, shares his top insights on how to get the best from your PR Agency.
It is essential to be honest with your PR Agency. To encourage clients, I often joke “How can you expect me to lie for you, if you do not tell me the truth?” which works to unlock the more hidden secrets. Sometimes clients do not tell their spokespeople and agencies the whole truth which undermines the process of communication. Protect yourself with an NDA if necessary, but brief your team fully and let them craft the communications.
Agreeing expectations with your PR Agency
From the start of the working relationship, ensure your agency understands what you want them to achieve. Spell it out in the PR brief and remind yourself/them at regular intervals. If the expectations change, then let the agency know.
Recognising the true cost of PR
Be aware, and make sure your business is aware, that PR activity will require some of your time. This might be from senior executives and other people in your organisation. Recognise that you need to invest that time. This means making spokespeople available and providing access across the organisation so information can flow to the PR Agency efficiently.
Provide as much background information as possible, copy the agency into internal communications and invite them to briefings and conferences. PR agencies are professional and will not divulge any sensitive information, so keep them in the loop.
Giving and taking feedback
Part of being honest in any relationship is communicating when good and bad things happen. Tell your agency if you are not happy with them. Be clear so they understand what failed to live up to the expectations you both agreed. Give them the opportunity to explain and take remedial action.
Just as importantly remember your PR Agency is an external entity and they can provide an invaluable perspective, so use them as a sounding board and listen to their professional feedback.