In my previous post I covered three essential steps you should follow to ensure you choose the right PR agency and get started on the right path to executing a successful communications effort. Once you find the best partner, it’s important to remain diligent in your efforts to secure the greatest value from each PR dollar spent:
1. Make sure your PR team has access to your marketing and business plans as well as important primary and secondary research. The belief that a PR agency doesn’t require the same business and market data that you need to make effective decisions is antiquated and will ultimately hamper the efficacy of your PR efforts. Over share rather than under share. If available, K/F required reading includes business plans, investor, partner and customer presentations, marketing plans, target and customer demographic and psychographic profiles, focus group or other primary research, competitive analyses, outside market research reports, MRDs, etc.
2.Ask your agency to recommend PR objectives that will help the company achieve articulated business and marketing goals. Discuss customized methods to measure the efficacy of PR programs. Be prepared to help your agency measure success. For example, if a critical objective is to help to drive sales—which it should be—establish tools with which you can determine if incoming leads are due to specific PR efforts. Or if an objective is to deliver a certain number of people to the website, be prepared to provide a breakdown of visitor traffic and visitor characteristics around significant PR events.
3. Reference partners and customers are absolutely essential to the success of your long term PR efforts. Many reporters won’t write about your products if they can’t validate company claims by speaking to your customers or partners. Of course there are exceptions, but don’t severely handicap your important announcements by not providing a number of customer references for reporters.
4. As the CEO or V.P of Marketing, you should serve as a conduit between the company and your agency. Participate in strategic decisions; serve as the company representative in press activities. On the back end, ensure that you are getting value from the relationship. Micromanaging your account team, however, is not a good use of your time, nor will it ensure you get the most out of your agency. When you’re tempted to help write PR plans, draft press releases, dictate PR tactics and review pitches, just remember the wise saying – “The person that represents himself in court has a fool for a lawyer.”
Savvy tech executives realize the value of PR over and above many of the other promotional elements of the marketing mix. Bringing in a top notch agency early in the process and devoting the time and financial resources necessary to succeed will be a determining factor in whether or not your company not only achieves your short term objectives, but survives. The smartest founders and executives bring the best talent to the table and together they set a course to conquer the market.