What does a PR agency do?
What does a PR agency do? What can a PR agency do that you can’t manage in-house?
A PR agency will help your business nurture, enrich, and protect your reputation. This works on the globally understood premise that, in B2B PR, business people only buy from someone that they like and trust. A poor reputation has a direct impact on your ability to sell and therefore your bottom line. PR campaigns can be designed to focus on different aspects of your business plan and because there are many ways of achieving the desired results, external professional help from a PR agency is often sought.
What is PR?
At EC-PR, we define public relations as the management of everything you say and everything you do to create the best possible conditions for your brand to succeed. Words and deeds which must be anchored in truth.
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) define PR:
“Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.”
Their more detailed definition states:
“Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”
Although PR is an ancient discipline, it is constantly evolving because of changes in technology, society, and the way we consume media. The biggest changes have happened in the last ten years, mainly because of the rise of social media and its ability to deliver information and rumour, instantly. Because the media is so fast-moving now, PR professionals are constantly learning, acquiring new skills, and adapting.
Why your business needs to invest in PR
What does a PR agency do?
In the most basic sense, A PR agency looks after your external communications – anything which impacts your reputation. They provide expert written and oral communication skills – to present your capabilities, achievements, and opinions; outstanding interpersonal skills – to build press relationships which support your strategy and exceptional listening skills – to capture opportunities, rumour, and competitive threats. However, the PR services on offer will differ between agencies and may look different depending on the type of business you run – B2B PR agencies, for example, work with businesses selling to other businesses (opposed to B2C agencies who will specialise in consumer PR).
The first and most important step in your relationship with a PR agency is establishing what success looks like. What is it you want the PR agency to help you achieve? For example, do you want to change any negative perceptions about your business? Promote a new product or service? Or work on building your brand awareness?
Although a PR agency will work with you to establish your PR objectives, these are separate from and should support your overall business goals.
With goals in place, an agency will then help establish a communication strategy – the action plan for achieving your objectives. An effective B2B communication strategy will include your value proposition, sector prioritisation, detailed audience personas, positioning statements and relevant messaging for each stage of your customer’s buying journey.
Following on from the communication strategy, a PR agency will develop a PR campaign plan. As part of this, an agency will usually be able to help with a marketing asset audit, competitive benchmarking, and of course, the content needed to deliver your campaign. A content calendar will be created – content creation can be done in-house, or the agency may also do this for you.
Finally, a PR agency will deliver your PR campaign, reporting back on their findings and what has been achieved.
All the above can be managed entirely by the PR agency, or you may share responsibility for some of the work with your in-house team. A service level agreement will have been agreed initially, describing exactly who is responsible for what – the most successful relationships are always collaborative though. The more you put into the work with your PR agency, the better your results will be.
Although PR services will differ between agencies, there are many other areas a PR professional will be able to help from media training and crisis communication to news management and lobbying.
Why partner with a PR agency?
Without doubt, PR can be done in-house., but the reason PR agencies exist is that in most instances, the breadth of experience and expertise required to deliver an effective PR programme simply isn’t available within the business. By partnering with a PR agency, you are taking advantage of an entire teams’ wealth of experience and expertise acquired over many years. The pound for pound expertise you can buy versus what you can recruit for the same money speaks volumes – it is a clear indicator as to how important your brand’s reputation really is to the business.
A PR agency will also be more disciplined when it comes to setting goals, measuring campaign success and reporting – enabling you to see what is working and the return on your investment – because they have a vested interest in showcasing success.
The word ’partnering’ is particularly important. For many businesses, their PR agency will become part of the team.
A PR agency should act as a seamless extension of the marketing team, partnering either with the Managing Director, or Chief Marketing Officer. Only then can the dream team be established.