27 Oct 2014

TAKEN by Your PR Firm? 5 Street Inspired Keys to Agency Management

Having spent more than a decade in PR working on the client side, I’ve seen so many organizations and businesses get “taken” by consultants. Now that I’m on the other side, I can’t seem to suppress my inner Jerry Maguire. Agencies, in general, have got to do better!

Sure, I may be labeled a “snitch” by the PR consultant world, but maybe this will help our rep. Plus, there’s nothing like being held accountable for your work and actually exceeding expectations.

Here’s the low: You have to manage your agency! Not very profound, you think? Well I have witnessed firsthand how organizations hand over the reins of their communications program (along with a big check) and get little in return.

Here are 5 Street Inspired Keys to Success in Working with your PR agency:

  1. School Them: Make sure your firm knows you, your product and/or your program. Make sure the members of your account team can deliver your elevator speech. Quiz them on it. Do it regularly, because your messages and priorities may shift over time.
  1. Don’t Front: Don’t be scared of your consultant. Remember who works for whom. Tell your firm what works for you and what isn’t working. Tell them if/when you think they didn’t work hard enough on a project or during a certain time period. You may be right, or there could be an underlying issue that may require you to provide more newsworthy data, spokespeople or information to your agency.
  1. Keep It Real: Have a periodic goal session with your firm. Are your goals realistic? If not, then why not? Are you expecting to be on the cover of USA Today, but your story is only ready for your own blog? If your goal is unrealistic, develop more realistic short-term goals that might help you achieve the larger goal in the long term.
  1. Stay In The Game – Lots of in-house communications pros lean on their agency of record so much that they don’t stay up-to-date on developments and best practices in the industry. Remember, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Our field is changing too rapidly to take time off. Know your stuff so you can actively direct your agency.
  1. YOLO (You Only Live Once) – While you need to closely manage your agency, you did hire an agency to advise you, right? If you don’t trust your agency’s strategic counsel, you may need to cut them off. Find the balance of being careful and strategic, while being open to fresh, new ideas! Fresh, new ideas are the path to great media coverage!

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