People often wonder how PR agencies work. There’s no simple answer as each will have its own unique culture, areas of specialism and approach (at RMS, for instance, we are happy to write thought leadership articles on behalf of clients while some agencies don’t have the appetite or skill).
Our PR specialists work in two teams: one that handles clients keen to reach a consumer audience – think food, drink, fashion, pre-school nurseries – and the other one works with B2B clients. The latter includes anything from private equity firms, legal and accountancy practices to environmental consultancies, property developers and manufacturers.
Blurred lines often exist. For instance, the consumer team might need its activity to target retailers who stock products, as well as consumers who buy. Similarly, a legal client might want to promote its services to businesses and individuals.
For PR to be effective, it’s essential we undertake lots of desk research and have meaningful conversations with clients from the off to ensure we have a solid understanding of their business and what they want to achieve – it could simply be brand awareness or sales. Generally, it’s both!
It’s really important that clients are open and honest with us about, for instance, the most profitable or most neglected areas of their business or their plans to exit, acquire or float, so we can tailor activity accordingly.
During this ‘getting acquainted’ phase, we’d take a look at their competitors to see how active they are in the media and to get a feel for what their target media is writing about, which will often inform our plans.
With PR, it’s really important to have a healthy mix of activity:
Press releases – short, factual pieces featuring ‘hard news’ such as new products or services, new recruits and promotions, financial results, new premises, contract wins, deals, milestones such as anniversaries, warnings and advice.
Articles – longer pieces that demonstrate a client’s opinion (and ergo) knowledge about a specific topic (this tactic is generally more evident in the B2B team). Our knowledge of publications and relationships with journalists are key to success here. Pieces must be of interest to the readership by addressing a topical issue and must never be overtly salesy or promotional of the client.
Commentary – most publications plan their editorial calendar and produce ‘forward features’ lists featuring the topics they’ll be covering in-depth in the future. PR agencies keep an eye on these to identify appropriate opportunities to put forward a client’s comments and views for inclusion.
Newsjacking – while planned activity has its place, being able to spot and exploit a breaking news story on behalf of a client is equally important. This ability can be the difference between a good and excellent PR agency.
Campaigns – the above ‘bread and butter’ tactics are often supplemented by standalone campaigns that have a very specific objective from the outset and measurable results. Although PR campaigns can be implemented for all clients, irrespective of sector, it’s fair to say we’re generally able to be a bit more ‘creative and colourful’ with our consumer activity as this case study for Kellog’s demonstrates.
PR – The gift that keeps on giving
PR is just one part of the marketing mix, and our PR team works closely with our social media, design and digital marketing teams to optimise the value of every piece of media coverage we secure for clients.
Repurposing is the name of the game. Just think about the many ways, just one piece of media coverage can be used:
- shared on your social media channels
- included in your newsletters
- featured in your eshots
- highlighted on your website
- included in your presentations and brochures
- shared in your internal communications (great for team spirit and morale)
PR really is the gift that keeps on giving. In the hands of an experienced PR agency, it will give you a significant return on investment for years and years to come.