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It’s not uncommon for someone to be working with a PR agency, only to find themselves unsatisfied a few months in. In a worse case scenario this could taint your perspective on public relations as a whole. The reason for the lack of satisfaction can be a few different things. Most obviously you went with the wrong agency, either for your brand or just in general. It’s also not uncommon for some to find themselves with the wrong set of expectations going into things. This can either be because you don’t have a clear understand of exactly what public relations is, or because your agency wasn’t transparent on what they can do for you.

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It’s important when starting a working relationship with a PR agency that you have a clear understanding of what public relations is. That way not only do you understand their services but you get a better idea of how it can compliment your marketing strategies. PR and marketing often go hand in hand, although they’re are some core differences that set them apart.

What is Public Relations?

Public relations is about building your name from the perspective of the public. This doesn’t just mean your customers. It also includes stakeholders, (potential) employees and anyone who could form a relationship with you or your business. PR strategies often utilize the media, bloggers and even influencers to promote clients through press releases, branded events and gifting.

Why Work With a PR Agency?

There are many reason why you might want to work with a PR agency. In the early days, public relations is what you would need during a crisis. But today most brands and people look to PR agencies to help them for a variety of reasons. Public figures might need PR to help with their overall image or for a particular occasion like an album release. Brands generally use PR agencies to help with brand awareness, product launches or even to raise awareness for an important cause.

Tips for Working With a PR Agency

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There is two parts to working with any PR agency. First is hiring a team, which is in our opinion the most important step, then comes all the work. But before you get started on your journey, check out our tips for managing the entire process.

When Hiring a PR Agency

1. Check Your Network for References – One of the best ways to find an agency with a good track record is to get references from your own network. Inquire with friends, colleagues and vendors to see if they have any recommendations. You’re sure to get an honest opinion from people you know.

2. Look At Agencies Within Your Niche – You want your PR agency to understand you and your business. Going with an agency that has experience in your industry or niche is extremely helpful. Instead of having them take the time to learn your business or brand, they can focus on honing in on your exact needs. They’re also more likely to have key relationships with players within your industry which only provides you with more opportunities.

3. Review Portfolio & Past Campaigns – A PR agency that produce quality work is proud of it. Often times they should have a portfolio or be able to share with you a couple of case study campaigns. This allows you to see the potential in what they can do for you, but also ensure that their work meets your expectations.

4. Be Transparent On Your End – The best way to start off any relationship is to be transparent. So when you’re interviewing agencies make sure that you’re honest with them about not only your needs but also your expectations. This is helpful for the agency to be realistic if they can deliver for you exactly what you’re looking for.

5. Ask About Their Capabilities – Once you’ve been open on your end, it’s important to ask the agency to do the same. Ask them to provide you with high level ideas on what they can do for you or to share similar campaigns they’ve done in the past. That way you can make your decision with a good overall understanding of what you’ll receive.

Once Working With a PR Agency

1. Get To Know Your Agency – Make sure you take the time to get to know your agency. And don’t just focus on your account executive. Sometimes agencies will at first assign senior people to secure your business. Then as you’re settled they’ll transition you over to someone more junior. Even in the event that this doesn’t happen, generally the day to day tasks are done by junior associates, or a completely different team altogether. Taking the time to get to know everyone who has a hand in your account only helps to ensure that you have a better relationship with your PR efforts.

2. Set Clear Goals & Expectations – From the beginning it’s important that you are extremely clear on what you want to achieve. Your agency from there can handle all the fine details. You also want to be on the same page in terms of time frames and deadlines so that there’s no room for misunderstandings. The clearer you are on both sides, the better the partnership will be.

3. Always Keep Them Up To Date – An agency’s worst nightmare is not being in the know about something. So even if you think it might not be relevant it’s important to share it with your team. A great way to make sure nothing slips through the cracks is to set up regular status meetings. It’s a consistent opportunity for both sides to share updates and ask questions to ensure everyone is well informed.

4. Be Responsive  – Another thing agencies dread is when they cannot get a hold of their clients. Remember you’ve set deadlines for things. So if you’re not responsive to emails, texts or calls it slows things down for everyone. You might also find yourself loosing out on opportunities like press if your publicist can’t reach you for a comment or to answer a question.

5. Don’t Be Afraid To Review Your Agency – Nothing lasts forever, and so you shouldn’t be afraid to review your agency from time to time. Sometimes as their employees move on, or perhaps your business advances, the relationship no longer fits. You should be regularly reviewing internally how your PR agency is working for you, so that you can make key decisions like finding a new one as needed.