From aspirational start-ups to well-established brands, businesses of all types have a lot to gain from PR, whether that’s building awareness or solidifying their brand. But while PR can undoubtedly help you achieve your business goals, how prepared is your business to committing to ongoing PR activity? To reap the full benefits of a PR agency, businesses should spend some time establishing how ready they themselves are to support the effort.
Having worked in B2B PR for over 20 years, I’ve seen many businesses investing in PR and other forms of marketing before being really ready. Here are six statements that you should be able to honestly say if you want to be the subject of a truly successful PR campaign:
1. I know what I want from PR
Have you got to a point in your business journey where you feel that it’s time to open the doors and get your name in the media? It’s important to know that there’s some thinking required from your side to establish what stakeholders you want to target and what message you want to get across. The aim of encouraging sales leads could mean approaching PR differently than if you wanted to just build awareness of what you do. Do you want to do more than generate publicity, such as build your digital presence? All of these factors determine the PR campaign that an agency can provide you with.
2. I have the budget and internal resource
It may seem obvious but it’s important to have part of your marketing budget solely allocated to PR to ensure that you can commit financially to it, and know that this is a long-term investment given that building awareness of your business won’t happen overnight. You should also account for time needed to brief your PR agency on regular topics, and reviewing content, so that plans can be followed and objectives can be met.
3. The organisation as a whole is willing
Those involved with the business’ marketing may understand the benefits of PR, but remember that the rest of the organisation, from senior management to product experts, might not be as clued up, and inspiring them on what PR can do for the business would be beneficial. A lot of PR content, such as blogs and articles, need to be by-lined to specific individuals, so having willing spokespeople plays an essential role in getting press coverage.
4. We understand the rules of engagement
A successful PR agency will get your business’ name, and the names of individuals across the business, into the media. That means that key spokespeople should be prepared to see themselves splashed across the magazine and newspaper pages and be ready for any media interest that could arise from this. Ask potential PR agencies if they offer media training, which can ensure that spokespeople understand the rules of engagement. Most PR content can be reviewed and approved by the business itself, but in situations such as interviews, the media can publish whatever the subject says. It’s key for the individual to position itself and the business in the best possible way.
5. I have original stories to tell
Don’t forget that you’re up against stiff competition to get into the media, so you need to develop original topics or issues with your PR agency to interest the press. Think beyond the stories that you feel directly promote your business, such as an office refurbishment or an award win. Leverage your knowledge of the market and experiences with customers to create content that can really resonate with key stakeholders. By giving your PR team regular updates on your market or company news, they can turn this into creative content that promotes your business but still wins over the press. However, a good PR agency should be able to forage deep inside your business and find some great stories you didn’t know existed!
6. I know how to integrate PR with marketing
While PR in isolation can help achieve your business objectives its outcomes can take go much further if integrated with wider marketing activity. Given that press coverage today can help build your digital presence, there’s much scope to have both factors reinforce one another. Working in sync with marketing activities PR is also a contributing factor when it comes to generating incoming business leads.
Outsourcing PR successfully means more than just finding the right agency; it’s also up to the business to make itself PR-friendly to reap the best possible return on investment. Some of the factors above are essential to any business embarking on a PR program, while others will make the process easier and more natural. Good luck on your hunt for great PR!