One of the issues that many boutique* agencies face is being the victims of their own success.
Say for example that you’ve been nervous about taking on a PR agency. You’ve done your research, taken your time and finally hired the agency that you think will be the best fit for you.
So they start work. Things are going really well, you’re getting lots of coverage, getting commissioned articles in your target media, being quoted in articles and journalists are starting to come to your agency to get your comment and opinion on market trends.
But then you think…ok, so this boutique agency has done a great job, this is paying off, we’re being recognised as thought leaders and getting more publicity than the competition. If this is what a small agency can achieve, just think what a big agency can do.
So you decide to switch. You go through the whole pitch process again, but with bigger agencies, proposing bigger budgets and sending in the ‘A-team’ to impress and convince you that they can do the job.
But then things start to change. The regular commissioned articles and the opinion pieces are discontinued because your new agency is changing direction and the articles don’t fit with their plans. The work gets passed down to the B or even C team and half the time you can’t even get hold of the team you met in the pitch and the coverage starts to dry up because there’s no communication between you and your agency.
Of course, we’re generalising and this isn’t always the case but here’s our advice on how to get the best out of your agency, big or boutique!
• Agree targets and outcomes of PR activity, make sure you’re working together to achieve them.
• Have regular meetings or even just phone discussions with your agency – sometimes ideas will come out of informal discussions that you didn’t even realise your PR team needed to know about.
• If you’re not happy with your agency, tell them! As with your clients and customers, your PR team aren’t mind readers and the only way you can change how things work is to tell them so that you can resolve the problem.
• Trust them. If you hire an accountant or a lawyer (assuming you’re not already an accountant or lawyer!) you make the assumption that they know more than you about accounts and law. It’s the same with PR. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide which way to go, but ask your agency’s advice and give it proper consideration. Even if you want to go a different way, an open discussion can lead to a compromise which works for everyone.
• Answer their calls, respond to their emails and talk to them! We know that when you’re running a business or a marketing department, dealing with questions and enquiries from an agency can fall down your list of things to do, but the better the communication between you, the better the results!
*PR speak for smaller agencies!