It can be difficult to manage any team within a business if you have no knowledge or experience of their field. Of course, the most effective leaders employ specialists in their relative fields and empower them to deliver their various areas of expertise, but even the most experienced people need a framework and support.
So how can you ensure you are maximizing the relationship with your own PR personnel, whether it’s in-house or through an agency?
1. Give a clear brief
How can you expect your PR team to deliver tangible results to your business if they’re not aware of the business plan and objectives? Make sure they know what your business strategy is so that your communications can support this and contribute to actual business results. Work with the team to set realistic timeframes and KPI’s, and be very clear about your expectations.
2. Listen to their advice
Presumably you have hired a PR team/person because you believe they have the skills and knowledge to do the job – so make sure you listen and take note of their feedback and recommendations. Just because you read magazines and newspapers, and use social media, it doesn’t mean you know how to maximize these channels professionally.
3. Have a budget
Contrary to popular opinion, PR is not free advertising. To have an effective PR strategy, at the very least, you need to invest in media monitoring (traditional and online), social media management tools, a media database, branded USBs for press kits, and potentially events, gifts and/or sponsored content and influencer outreach. Speak to your PR team to ensure you are providing appropriate resources for the expected deliverables.
Related: Six Myths About PR For Your Business
4. Measure results
Establish measurement criteria at the outset. Traditionally PR was always measured by the number of clips and AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent) of this media coverage – ie what it would cost you to take out an ad of that size.
However, the industry is moving away from this standard because it does not reflect business results. If the clip is two pages about Dubai, with a one-line mention of your company at the end, is it really worth two pages of advertising? Does a half-page interview with you, giving all of your company key messages, hold the same value as a half-page interview/round table that features you and your biggest competitor? Is a full-page review that has some negativity or apathy, worth the same as a full-page glowing recommendation?
Think about establishing qualitative measurements rather than quantitative – how many of your key messages are covered in each clip, what percentage of the clips are positive/negative/neutral? Do you have a top tier media target list that you want to increase mentions in, rather than just increasing the number of clips total (which could be achieved by getting coverage across any lower tier media or online sites).
5. Share business results
If your communication goals are linked to your business strategy, you PR team need to know how the business is faring. This should be one of the key modes of measuring the efficacy of your PR. Unfortunately, silos within the business often mean that PR teams don’t get this data, which limits their ability to see if these clips have achieved anything for the business. Ideally the PR team should receive the website statistics, data on enquiries and sales on a regular basis. This will enable them to see if their communications are driving action; which communications have been most effective in getting attention and driving traffic, and where any stumbling blocks may be.
6. Review data and be adaptable
Read those reports! Make sure you know what is happening in the business and in the community/industry in general. If you’re not getting a chance to get through reports properly on a regular basis, ask for a regular top-line summary instead. Use the data you are collecting to regularly review and refresh the communications strategy. In this day and age, the media and social media landscape is changing on a daily basis, and you need to ensure you are able to adapt. You can’t set a strategy for the year and expect it to stay exactly the same for those twelve months.
7. Be available
PR is two-way – sending out news, information and insights to media and pitching ideas, but at the same time, if your team have good media relations, you should be receiving requests from media for comment and input on hot topics and trends. When there is breaking news (ie new legislation is announced), the media, particularly newspapers and radio, will be looking for immediate comment. Your PR team needs to be able to pick up the phone to call you, and ensure that they can get an approved statement (or that you can be available for a telephone interview) often within the hour
8. Meet face to face on a regular basis
Bearing in mind the previous points about reviewing results and updates, and just generally in order to maintain a good relationship, make sure you meet in person at least once a month. Get to know your people, be transparent and honest about the business, and ensure there is open dialogue. Not only will this be beneficial for the business, it will also ensure a much smoother working relationship.
Your PR team is such a critical part of your business, responsible for promoting and protecting your brand reputation, so the relationship you have with them is incredibly important. It can be hard to measure results and activity in tangible numbers, and there are so many variables beyond a PR person’s control that can affect whether news gets published, so for those who like to feel in control, it can be a particularly frustrating part of the business.
However if you ensure your PR team is provided with the necessary structure, resources and support, and you have an open line of communication, and a story to tell, you should be able to let go and trust in their skills and abilities to deliver.
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