How will PR help my business?
PR is all about creating awareness and getting you noticed. PR reaches large target audiences and is perceived as a better return on investment than advertising, although in truth PR and advertising work synergistically and most companies do a mix. Where PR does have the edge however is the credibility that editorial lends over paid for advertising. It gives you the opportunity to be extremely targeted and focussed in your messaging – educating your audiences about your company, brand, products and services. It helps your customer base to know you better, you become more familiar and they will likely choose you over a competitor that they haven’t heard of. Good PR helps build relationships with customers and prospects and will boost sales. Many of our clients report increased sales as a result of the PR activity we have delivered.
Why would I work with a PR Agency?
If your agency has good contacts in the media they will be able to leverage those relationships on day one. In the case of our work on behalf of clients supplying the facilities management sector the FM press know that in one conversation with us that they can get stories relating to security, pest control, contract cleaning and lifts. It makes us a valuable resource.
Relationships take time to build and there is an art to pitching stories to the press. A good PR should also to be able to quickly get up to speed with your products, services and culture and identify the stories that will achieve successful coverage. That isn’t to say some people aren’t extremely successful in handling their own PR just that it is often an important but non-urgent activity and can often slip down the priority list. Successful PR requires the regular flow of communications whether it’s through press releases, editorial placements, speaking opportunities, events – you have to keep your profile high so when your customers and prospects are ready to buy it’s you they think of.
Does the PR campaign add real value? It is very hard to measure this in terms of money but some form of measurement is essential.
I agree, and this is as important for the PR agency as it is for the client. PR is getting easier to measure, however there isn’t a single way to reliably evaluate – we tend to use a combination of indicators which are monitored in the short and long term and agreed with our clients. For example we use google analytics to look at patterns in website traffic as part of that evaluation. Whenever they appear in the media there is usually a spike of website traffic on that particular day. In the case of one client appearing in the press (as a result of their winning a business award) their website traffic more than doubled the previous high. This is an example of a short term quite tangible measurement, there are others which are more difficult to measure such as public perception of the company. This can only be gauged over time through surveys (we often do a survey when starting out with my clients to evaluate how they are perceived pre and post PR campaign). Over a period of two years of working with a client they saw that they were being invited to tender for larger and more prestigious contracts. They attributed this to their profile and reputation building – ie directly as a result of the PR they had been doing. Another client was able to attribute £250k of business directly to PR.
Are there more effective ways of getting the same results?
Not in my opinion. PR activity (which is a whole raft of tools) is still the best way to reach extensive audiences. The skill comes in identifying which tools are the most effective. So for any client we will look at the tools that are available and use some or all of them depending on their business, what we are trying to achieve and who we are trying to reach. See the Services pages for the PR tool-kit and read the Joined Up PR page on how to get the most out of PR by making it work with the search engine optimisation (SEO) of your website and effective social media.
How much support do we need to give to the PR firm? This is a real cost.
Indeed engagement is key and I have the best results with clients who are engaged. This does not necessarily mean that these are the clients I spend the most time with. It just means they have to be quite responsive and value the activity. I had one client who loved face to face meetings with me. I did not necessarily get the most out of the door for this client. On the other hand I have a client who I have been working with since February – we had a few meetings in the run up to my engagement – since then we have only one meeting. The rest we do over email and occasional phone calls. We have had great results so far with press coverage.
We are able to work fairly autonomously, we’ve been doing this for 20 years now and know our way around. We write pretty much everything for our clients. The internet has made a huge difference – there is so much information available that we are able to get up to speed really fast. We do a lot of research. Within a few months we can usually talk about our client’s business as well as they can. Most of the time we take up with clients is in getting sign-off on press releases, case studies and articles that we have written and getting updated on recent developments in their business.