(Editor’s Note: This is part three of a series of posts from Aaron Blank following his attendance last week at the PRSA Counselors Academy in New Orleans.)
Partnering up with a Public Relations firm means you are adding more bench strength to your team. The new players are usually seasoned professionals supported by a host of different levels of account executives with a diverse mix of skill sets. How you use this firm is really up to you. Make sure you get the most out of your firm.
Here are five tips on how you can maximize your results:
- Find the best fit for you. When you are out searching for a Public Relations agency (or any agency for that matter), make sure you find a team that you can work with. Sure, each agency has its different experiences. Its different skill sets. They all have worked for a variety of different clients. So what works? It all starts with, do you like them as people? Can you work with them? Then look at their bench strength and examine it.
- Fees. Agencies usually bill hourly, even if you are on a retainer fee structure. A retainer means you have a certain hours dedicated to your account each month. It is different than say time and materials because you don’t have an unlimited budget to work from. Retainers usually benefit the client. It sets you up with a limit on all sides. Know what you’ll get from your agency if you decide the retainer fee structure. At most agencies, hourly rates range from $50 and can exceed $400 (depending on the agency and marketplace). (Note: At PRSA’s Counselor’s Academy I learned that some of the larger agencies actually charge a management overhead fee and embed that into your retainer fee each month. Get to the bottom and understand this before you sign on.)
- The first question we ask our clients is usually – what does success look like to you? Right out of the gate, define success and measure results. Things you can measure can be: certain number of column inches, air time, sound bites or online hits, feature articles placed in an influential journal, greater customer awareness of your brand, influencer engagements, social media impressions, sales results as a direct result of your engagement, a specific number of sales leads within a specific timeframe, online and search analytics, invitations to speak at prestigious events or seminars, specific industry awards, more media are calling. The list can go on but you get the point.
- Manage the process. You are in control of the work. Make sure your account team creates a plan and a scope of work that is mutually agreed upon. This will dovetail you on the program. Schedule weekly calls with the team and make sure you are all on the same page. Communicate as often as possible and be up front with your account manager. Know who your day-to-day contact is and develop a relationship with that person. Maximize their potential and offer them as much information as possible. Don’t give them a project that is too easy to handle. Think of them as counselors who can implement your work. They are only as good as the information you provide. Share sales numbers and business goals and objectives. The deeper their knowledge base, the more successful you are. Don’t wait to tell them something. As soon as you know it, share it. They can create ideas for the next program.
- Develop strategies on where you want to go. What’s next? Where do you want to be in two years? Your team should be strategic. They should offer up strategies and insights that could help your bottom line. A good communications team will help you meet your business goals.