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You only need one thing to generate consistent profit –and that’s trust.
When people buy from you, it means they believe your product or service can help them achieve an important goal. But how easy is it to build trust nowadays?
Information is available at everyone’s fingertips and anyone can write, post, record, and publish opinions. Your brand can have the most attractive ads and social posts. But if a Google search brings new prospects to a slew of negative reviews –or worse, no information at all –it’s highly unlikely that customers will consider availing of your offers.
This is where PR comes in.
What is the meaning of PR, and what does a PR agency do?
PR, which stands for public relations uses PR professionals and PR agencies to help brands spread awareness for their services, and manage their public image and perception.
Here we will talk about what PR agencies do and how you can work with one.
10 Duties Of A PR Agency
Here are ten ways a PR agency can benefit you and your brand.
1. Reputation Management
A good brand reputation can help you gain customers, foster loyalty, and attract quality talent. However, this can be challenging to build. Your brand’s reputation will be influenced by your customers’ experience of you and by the reviews, posts, and testimonials other people may have shared.
Building a good reputation requires consistency and visibility. A PR team can help you emphasize the earlier and achieve the latter. Done right, good reputation management can make you top-of-mind for your market and industry.
In the case of mishaps –false rumors, controversy, honest mistakes or slip of the tongue –we now go to the second role that public relations agencies can play: crisis management.
2. Crisis Management
A crisis is an umbrella term that defines situations that can potentially jeopardize the brand’s reputation. A good example is when the Consumer Product Safety Commission implored home exercise equipment provider, Peloton, to recall their Tread+ treadmills because they’re unsafe. Along with the request, videos of children being caught underneath the massive machine and news about how it has caused fatal accidents also started circulating, further instilling fear across the public.
In times like these, good crisis management can help the company communicate properly with its audience so it can take responsibility for its actions and preserve its good reputation. Instead of that happening, however, It wasn’t until weeks of massive backlash that Peloton recalled the units and issued a redesign months later.
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it,” Benjamin Franklin said. So when yours is threatened, you need to be prepared to protect it.
3. Event Management
One of the ways that PR firms entice content creators and journalists to spread the word about products is by holding PR events. These events can be product activations, press conferences, etc. Done right, a PR event provides a memorable experience and a delicious taste of what your brand can offer.
For example, the E3 Expo (short for Electronic Entertainment Expo) is a trade event primarily made for game developers, investors, publishers, and the press (although it started being open to the public in 2017). Here, new game announcements and trailers are released, instilling massive hype and publicity for game developers.
Exhibitors make serious preparations when they’re part of E3. Participants can expect mind-blowing videos and jaw-dropping reveals throughout the program. Press and journalists who attend the event ooze with stories to tell after attending.
PR events can be challenging to put up. From conceptualization to coordination and execution, a PR agency can help you mount your PR event to make your brand memorable to the press –and to their audiences eventually.
4. Asset Production
Videos and images are crucial to capture attention. This makes it vital for brands to come up with compelling assets that will excite the press and media into sharing them with their audiences.
When you organize a press kit, it’s important to include compelling images of your offers and videos that can help your target audiences connect with your brand. Exclusive trailers, previews, instructional videos, testimonials, and the like, would be awesome to include. As for images, product beauty shots and software screenshots would take the cake.
These assets can be challenging to make if you don’t have an in-house asset production team. But if you work with a PR agency, they would be able to help you with that.
A PR agency will not just help you create assets that look good. You can also expect that they’ll fit your assets with the press’ sensibilities and your brand’s voice.
5. Media Relations
Relationship-building is at the core of public relations. And when you work with a PR agency, this is a major part of what you pay for.
Building and nurturing relationships with journalists, influencers, and media, is hard work. It may involve constantly providing stories that resonate with their audiences, remembering their birthdays and sending gifts on the right occasions, connecting them with resources that can help them create good material, giving them press gifts, taking them out to lunch, and more. But done right, this gives PR agencies a massive capability to get the word out for your brand.
Aside from connections, your PR agency will build knowledge on the types of stories media outlets and channels like to feature. This way, they can help you craft them accordingly so you have better chances of getting your stories picked up.
6. Influencer Management
With the rise of digital marketing and content creation, it has been found that 49% of consumers depend on their recommendations when considering and purchasing products or services. In fact, the famed flop Fyre Festival managed to sell 5,000 tickets to their non-existent luxury party and gain millions of dollars all because of an all-too-good influencer campaign.
Influencer marketing can be a complicated field. Finding the right influencer for your brand will need you to understand the different types of influencers, find the one whose brand and personality align, come up with a package, negotiate levels of control, and then provide them with the materials and information they need to create the content. You’ll also need to track their performance to measure the effectiveness of their efforts.
If you want to work with influencers for your marketing campaign but you don’t have the manpower to accommodate all these tasks, you can opt to work with a PR agency to help you manage.
7. Press Release Copywriting & Seeding
A major part of marketing is community management. To keep your community excited, you’ll want to come up with updates and announcements. A good way to amplify these is by working with media publications that cater to the same audiences as you. This way, you can capitalize on their reputation and their audience.
Press releases are stories about your brand, company, or product, that you’re essentially pitching to reputable media publications. These can be major releases, new updates, or great results and partnerships. Seeding is the act of sharing these press releases with publications in the hopes that they get picked up and turned into stories in their channels.
Good press releases are concise but compelling. For best results, they need to be sent to media publications whose audiences align with yours. A good PR agency can help you create these press releases and send them out to the right people for the job.
8. Media Outreach
If you’re an indie game developer, receiving advanced information that Kotaku is about to release a list of their top indie game recommendations for the year can help you secure a spot and gain massive traction for your game.
Regardless of your industry, grabbing opportunities to be recommended by highly reputable channels and publications will help you amplify your marketing efforts. But the thing is, staying in the know about these things is a full-time job.
Good PR agencies have established connections with relevant media outlets. Often, these relationships are so strong that when there are opportunities for brands to be featured, they’re usually one of the first ones to know.
Media outreach can also include pitching to relevant shows and broadcasts who might want to interview your company representatives or feature your products or company. Subscribing for the assistance of a PR agency will help you identify these opportunities and take advantage of them.
9. Media Training
Journalists are tasked to conduct compelling interviews by asking the questions audiences want to ask –whether you want them asked or not. Publicists can normally negotiate and field interview questions. But sometimes, facing these questions becomes vital to establish trust with consumers. To maximize the benefits of interviews, company representatives need to undergo media training which is a PR service that the agency can provide.
In this cringy BBC Business On Breakfast interview with the UK Head of RIM (the creators of Blackberry), you’ll see how RIM tried so hard to use canned spiels to hype Blackberry 10 and avoid answering the interviewer’s direct questions. This is media training gone wrong. Instead of presenting themselves as innovators who learned from their mistakes, they portrayed themselves as stubborn and unwilling to face facts.
In competitive industries, companies need to be able to answer tough questions. Media training equips you with interview etiquette, knowledge of common media traps (and how to deal with them), etc. This way, you can graciously deny commenting if needed, you can stay calm despite pressure, can think on your feet, and answer hard questions with finesse.
10. Research & Strategy
With so many PR tools at your disposal, you’ll need to ensure that you’re using the right ones through research and strategy.
Which channels does your target audience find most credible? What touchpoints will make the most impact? Which publications, media outlets, influencers, and interviews will help you move the needle?
For example, if you’re launching a new local restaurant, it may be optimal to partner with local shows and publications. Although food is something that everyone can patronize, your priority can be capturing the market who have the means to drop by, and these are the people within your city. If you have an extra budget, then that’s when you may want to explore guesting in morning shows and pitching to national publications.
Only a minority of companies have limitless marketing budgets. For most of us, deliberation and prioritization are paramount. Working with a PR agency gives you access to solid expertise and insight that can help you optimize your PR and media buying efforts.
How To Hire A PR Agency
1. Clarify Goals
Before you reach out to a PR firm, be clear about where your PR efforts fit in your consumer journey, and the message/s you want to come across. Some pieces of information you may want to secure are:
- Who is your target audience?
- How wide of an audience do you want to reach? What market/s are you eyeing?
- What are your key messages?
- What is your goal?
- What is your timeline?
- What channels are you planning to populate?
These questions will help guide your conversation with your PR agency prospects. It’ll also set them in the right direction when they create proposals to assist you.
2. Collect And Screen Options
To find an agency to work with, you can ask for referrals, do a Google search, look through LinkedIn, etc.
Once you’ve collected options, the next step is to screen them. Consider thinking about which would be most beneficial for your brand:
- Niche vs General: Do you prefer that the PR agency you work with is niched down to your product or industry? Or are you open to those who work with a wide array of brands and industries?
- Local or Remote: Working with a local partner can allow you to meet face-to-face. There’s also a bigger chance that you operate in the same time zone. Remote agencies, however, can work as well. Especially if you’re looking for someone very niche, they may not always be available in your city.
After coming up with your shortlist, schedule a discovery call with each of them and share your goals. Some prospects will send you a proposal and cost estimate after signing an NDA so you can gauge if you align.
3. Evaluate Proposals
Now that you’ve collected their proposals, it’s time for you to check which initiatives make the most sense for your brand and which PR agency seems to offer the best bang for your buck. What publications are they offering to reach? What is the strategy they’re proposing?
Along with the proposals, it’s useful to request case studies of their works with their past clients –ideally, clients whose campaigns and products have many similarities with yours.
While agency proposals might be impressive, looking into their case studies will give you an idea of what their proven capabilities are. It might also let you in on their thought processes, helping you gauge if they’re the right fit.
4. Confirm And Kickoff
Once you’ve picked your PR agency of choice, you can start processing contracts to finalize your agreement. Be sure to clarify the scope, timelines, communication plans, and key deliverables.
Is Hiring a PR Agency Worth It?
PR agencies give you access to years' worth of relationships and expertise. If you’re serious about the amount of traction you want to receive and if you have a budget you can invest, working with the right PR agency is definitely worth it.
A PR agency can help you amplify your marketing efforts by connecting you with channels, and personalities with massive and relevant followings. They can also help you refine your PR strategy and equip you with the skills you need to effectively represent your business to journalists and the media.
Just like any marketing channel, PR is most effective when it aligns with your go-to-market strategy. Be clear about your messaging and your goals so you can effectively communicate them with your prospective PR agency. For a seamless pipeline, consider using a tool like Workamajig which is an all-in-one marketing project management software. Built specifically for creative agencies, it allows you to manage tasks and assign them to external partners all within one system. You can easily monitor their progress without having to follow up on them for updates. Use Workamajig to easily manage all of your marketing campaigns from start to finish. With features that include, resource management, task management, finance and accounting, CRM, and more, you will soon discover that you can ditch all of your other tools and manage everything effortlessly all within Workamajig. Learn more about how Workamajig can help your creative team by scheduling a free demo today!