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“We’ve hired a public relations firm. Now what do we do?”

Sometimes, companies need extra sets of hands to complete a big project. In other times, they might hire consultants to support the workload. Then there’s the crisis that must be handled with strategy and care. There are all sorts of reasons to hire a public relations firm, but once the firm is on board how can it be most effective for its client? With some insight into a PR firm and the role it plays, a company can have a more beneficial partnership with the firm.

  • Let’s dispel the myth that your company has hired a public relations firm because you can’t do the job.  Companies today rarely have 20-person PR teams. My most recent position was with a company of 34,000 employees—around the world—and yet, the PR team consisted of two people. We used agencies and consultants in key markets and regions to help fill in the gaps. Using a firm in each market saved time, was cost-effective, and added valuable resources to our team of two. We had more time to work on other initiatives knowing we had on-the-ground support, even in another time zone.
  • When you have a problem, we are an arm’s length away from it and can offer perspective.  But if your first call should be to your legal counsel vs. your public relations firm, make that call right now. The two disciplines can certainly work together and do so regularly. 
  • A great in-house PR team can be even better with some outside assessment.  The bank of knowledge possessed at a PR firm allows it to borrow strategies that work and tweak them for your company. I was always amazed by a former mentor (the CMO of one of the firms I worked for in the mid-2000s), who was super smart on just about any subject.  She said to me once, “Oh, I know a little about a lot.”  The truth is she knew a lot about a lot and she was able to offer excellent guidance based on her experience and years in the business.  
  • We are not miracle workers.  We can’t “make” a reporter or blogger write the story as you want to see it written.  After more than 25 years of working in public relations and communications (on both corporate and agency sides), I can say it’s a bit like cooking.  You measure the ingredients perfectly for the cake, bake it for the correct time at the right temperature and there are still times the cake comes out of the oven and falls slightly.  But if it still tastes good, where is the problem? 
  • We establish relationships with the media to promote your business as an excellent source of information.  We also offer background to the media so they understand the subject clearly and completely.  In public relations, we strive to maximize exposure for a brand or business and also for balance and fairness.  That is what gains everyone’s respect.

I once had a client who said (kindly), “If I don’t hear from you at least every other day, you’re not working hard enough for me.” Fortunately, he and his direct reports were hearing from my team five days a week. 

That level of client service has carried me through public relations on both the corporate and agency side of business.  If you’re paying a PR agency for counsel, let us be at the table with you every day we’re needed.  We’re here to help because we thrive on challenges and solutions. 

Topics: Public Relations