5 Steps for a successful PR partner relationship
At Zebu, we’ve had the fortune of working on both sides of the Public Relations
dance exercise. As clients, mostly in technology firms, we’ve had engaged multiple PR firms in India and overseas, with varying results and vastly different experiences. We’ve also more recently played the supplier role – as providers of public relations services to both non-tech and tech firms – we’d like to believe with a measure of success. What this has taught us is that, particularly as clients, there are definitive steps you can take to ensure that this relationship is both productive and enjoyable.
So here are our 5 steps for a successful relationship with your PR partner.
- Be clear about your objectives What is it that you hope to get accomplished with that particular event or activity? Why are you doing it and what would success look like? How does it fit with your overall goals and plan for the year or half-year. Write down your objectives, so that neither your team nor your PR partner is unclear.
- Listen to your partner Once you have a written set of objectives, discuss them with your partner. As you would with any specialist you consult- say a doctor – listen to your PR partner. Again as with your doctor, you don’t have to agree or even like it and you can always seek a second opinion, but if you don’t listen to your supplier – you haven’t gotten the right partner (in which case, why are you working with them) and you most likely not achieve your objectives. Of course if your PR partner nods his head and agrees with everything you say you should be equally worried. So listen to not just his words but to the silences as well.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare Both folks who are new at this – they may not know any better – and experienced executives all often are not adequately prepared for a PR activity. Make no mistake, if Steve Jobs needs preparation, you certainly will. A good partner would ensure you have the right collateral in place, have rehearsed your message, done mock Q&A sessions and otherwise ensured that there are no surprises during the actual event. If more than one person will be at the event, ensure roles are clear as are protocols for handing over to one another.
- Measure everything On both the input side (how you told your story) and output (who covered it how). Who did you target as your medium for your PR message – bloggers, television, print media, trade press or radio? How many folks did you invite, who came, who asked and who answered which question, what did you hand out and where did it show up on coverage and how was it covered. What did it do to your website traffic or social media chatter, inquiries from readers or follow-on questions from the press. Of course what did it cost – before, during and after the event. Over several events you will figure out which measures are relevant and important to your business and these will change based on your objectives. This will also make it easier to both plan, budget and justify your future marketing efforts.
- Follow through This to me is the step most often overlooked. Regardless of how well (or how badly) you felt the activity or event went, conduct an immediate review with your partner and other staff of how the event went – what worked and what didn’t. Follow through with your target group – be they the media, customers or other stakeholders. Drop them a thank you note, send them that additional info you promised, preferably the same day and pass on the baton clearly to your sales team or other groups that may need to perform the follow on activity. Ideally in your preparation phase you have identified most of the tasks and it’s a matter of execution. This will make a huge difference how well your next or future events will do.
These 5 steps done consistently will help you run successful PR events by building on your partner’s strengths. Finally as clients we need to be realistic as well – even as you aim high have your feet firmly on the ground. And don’t forget to have fun.