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Does Your PR Agency See You as a Project or a Partner?

Ensure your public relations investment is delivering results like they're members of your team.

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Pairing your team with a public relations agency is about relationship building and the relationship—the one between client and agency—speaks volumes about how your business is seen in the media.

Despite the current landscape of quick, in-cloud collaboration and one-off gig marketing, PR should be held to a different standard. Your business' reputation is on the line, so you need to ensure the agency you're onboarding treats you like a partner—not just another project.

Related: 5 Overlooked Business Outcomes of PR for Fast-Growing Companies

Empathy

One of the major jobs of public relations is to promote overall brand image and values. That simply can't happen if the agency only swoops in to check boxes and draft press releases. Being a good PR partner means cultivating a relationship with the client, understanding what motivates employees and developing a stake in the outcome. A PR partner can't advocate for a business if it doesn't truly understand why its team shows up to the office every day.

When interviewing prospective agencies to bring on board, note the level of human interest. An agency that only shows up to draft glowing copy and pitch the media might help move the needle with results but one that invests in the team and its challenges can help move mountains.

PR Metrics

Conversion rates, likes, impressions, media placements —those are the major conversation drivers that catch the ears of the C-Suite. Yet, recent studies show that the press release is still the most trusted form of branded communications for media in 2021. In this day of disposable content, that means something. A solid PR agency will help guide that conversation by focusing on meaningful long-tail metrics.

The perfect press release seeds the conversation beyond the native platforms run by a company's digital team. A well-executed campaign generates media placements, which drive traffic, increase brand awareness, enhance reputation and encourage action. A funny social post can certainly make waves, but a well-placed media story can deliver sticky content with broad engagement that adds meaning to marketing spending. Look for a PR agency that focuses on those metrics.

Related: 8 Key Performance Indicators for PR — What Really Matters?

Collaboration

A great PR firm is one that shows a willingness to work cross-departmentally within an organization, enthusiasm for brainstorming as a team and an openness for sharing strategies with third-party partners.

The ability to share of-the-moment story ideas, identify relevant trending topics and tie those topics to a company in a strategic way are hallmarks of a PR agency that thrives in a collaborative environment—one worth hiring.

Relationship-building

According to Pew Research Center, U.S. newsroom employment has fallen nearly 30% since 2008. As a result: a PR agency adept at building new relationships is paramount.

A great firm is always establishing inroads with traditional media, digital and influencers, but also looking to the future. What are consumers saying about your business in the metaverse and who is helping seed that conversation? Find an agency that's already looking into it.

Opportunity

With the global spend on PR reaching upwards of $95 billion annually, a PR agency worth the investment isn't simply reactive to the news or the client's day-to-day needs. It also looks for new, innovative media opportunities and cutting-edge spaces where conversations are breaking through. But most importantly, a PR agency should take the initiative to cultivate an intimate understanding of a client's industry.

That means understanding industry challenges, tracking industry trends and establishing connections with industry thought-leaders that go beyond immediate trade publications.

Once you decide to move forward with an agency that feels right, get the most out of that investment by establishing a realistic timeframe for results. Remember that a strategic PR campaign can take upwards of six to nine months to come to fruition, so when tracking progress, don't forget that good things often come to those who wait.

Related: Harness the Power of New Public Relations Technology

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