Some time ago we had a meeting with a potential client.
We did our research into the company, looked at previous press coverage they’d had and the marketing work they’d been doing so far then went in to meet them to find out more about their aims and objectives, where they saw themselves in a year’s time and what they would consider a successful campaign.
Unfortunately, they didn’t want to discuss any of this.
They wanted to know what we were going to do for them.
That was it, no discussion about the company, its structure or how it worked. No discussion of its long term plans and what they were looking for in a PR agency and no interest in answering the questions which would have given us an insight into the business. As it turned out, the structure of the company had changed since the press coverage from the previous year which was apparent after we queried a few things, but they didn’t want to discuss this either, giving us no insight into the company strategy or its values.
The owner of the business was obviously in a rush and had lined up a number of PR agencies to come in that day to talk to him about their PR, but he was in such a hurry, he had no time or inclination to discuss his business in any depth.
It seemed that he wanted a ‘beauty parade’ of PR agencies and he wanted a company to answer his questions and say what he wanted to hear rather than having an open discussion about the company, its challenges and ambitions.
Interviewing agencies in this way means that they might agree with everything you say, they might promise to get you where you think you need to be (and sometimes where a company thinks it needs coverage may not actually benefit them) but they won’t think creatively and won’t challenge you to think about your business and what you need to do to get where you want to be which leads to overpromising and under-delivering.
If you don’t have time to properly discuss your business and go into detail about what you’re looking for, you won’t get the best out of the agencies you’re seeing. They won’t get an insight into your business and won’t be able to see the opportunities that can only be seen from an external perspective. If you’re short of time, work with your team to put together a PR brief – you can find examples online – which will give you the perspective to think about what you need from an agency and what you’re trying to achieve.
As they say, it takes two to tango, and in order to build a successful long-term relationship with a PR agency, you need to be open with them and work together to agree an effective PR strategy. If you find the right agency, they’ll handle the work without needing too much of your time, but to run an effective PR campaign it’s imperative to invest time in talking to prospective agencies sharing the details of your business to get the best out of them.