“Work your magic on this” is a phrase we often hear from our clients. It’s flattering, but we know that what we do is far more complex than waving a wand. (We wish it were that simple!)
Without a doubt, our greatest tricks involve more than a glitter-covered stick, a sleight of hand and some fairy dust. Here are a few of the ingredients behind client and agency success:
An open line of communication – Prepare to share! Public relations work involves a close partnership, or collaboration, between the consultant and the client. Without regular talks, email contact or meetings, it’s impossible for a public relations expert to know what’s going on at your place of business. Oftentimes, the best ideas – or “magic” as some would call it – evolve from a simple discussion. For instance, a client may casually mention a not-for-profit it is aligned with or a market it is looking to reach. A quick remark like that can spark a lead for a savvy public relations professional, who might create a shift in strategy or otherwise take advantage of a new idea. Let your agency in on your plans, current and future, offer clear feedback and, most importantly, keep the conversation going.
Clear understanding on both sides – Knowing what your PR pro expects from you and what you’re looking for from them is an essential step in building a long-term relationship. Before engaging any public relations firm, hold calls or meetings and ask plenty of questions. Talk about why you’d like to partner with the firm, what’s working for your business (and what isn’t) and what your dream scenario is. When proceeding, have your public relations team put a written plan in place as a roadmap to help you get from A to B.
Similarly, be wary of firms that don’t ask questions of you. The best publicists are strategists, not order takers.
Access to resources and information – The members of your public relations team want to know that they can reliably and quickly get in touch with people that can help them move things along. Whether it’s a last-minute media opportunity, an interview to help write that op-ed or a request for additional data to substantiate a statement within a press release, participation from key players in your organization helps your firm do its job best. Sharing as much information as possible with your agency allows it to better understand your firm’s vision and goals and to form the best strategy to help you get there.
Realistic expectations – Sure, your agency has landed its fair share of New York Times and Wall Street Journal stories, magazine features and broadcast placements – after all, you’ve hired them to help you shine. But it’s important to realize that excellent public relations is more about positioning than prestige. The target audience for a successful pitch, placement and response may be more regional than national. Sometimes, a few local speaking engagements need to be booked before an approach is made to the coveted 92nd Street Y. Solid public relations plans are customized by the client and results are often the sum of consistent effort over time. Some of the most stellar media placements, for instance, can take six to eight months to secure.
It’s not just media relations work either. Crafting a clever thought leadership article or writing a compact article for the company newsletter takes effort. Even the most seasoned writer writes, re-writes, and then edits some more, all with the likely input of a colleague or team member. All of that takes time.
Trust is a must – Last, but not least, if you hire an expert to do a job, and you are certain you have the right person in place, step back and let the process unfold. The professional you’ve hired is likely more familiar with the media landscape than you are and knows how hard to push a pitch or when a reporter may be on deadline.
Ready to make some magic? With communication, partnership, cooperation and trust – and the right “magician” by your side – you’ll be well on your way. No hocus pocus necessary.