PR Director of Right Hook Communications, Wesley Gunter, doesn’t want you to waste your
I know many of you must be wondering why anyone would turn down a client if he’s willing
shove a truckload of cash down your throat to do whatever he/she wants.
Personally I have a problem with the whole ‘shut up and do as I say because I pay you’ mind-
set. Now don’t get me wrong… I love money. Who doesn’t? But doing something for the
sake of money that goes against my principles and better judgement would basically make
me nothing better than a well-paid prostitute. If you’re wondering what this rant has to do
with this article, hold your horses I’ll get there soon.
Hiring a PR agency can be a long drawn process with many things to consider about it such
as the size of the setup, their portfolio and cost. Before you size up any of the players to see
which one is best for you the first thing you should do however is to ask yourself ‘Do I really
need an agency?’ If any of the following points below apply to you it’s probably best you
don’t shop for that PR agency yet.
1. You have no idea what PR is
Here’s the scenario. You’ve got friends that tell you it’s about time you hired a PR
agency for your business because its time you did and they’re raving about how PR
has helped them increase their sales etc. You on the other hand have no idea what
PR is but are desperate to inject some pizzazz into your fledgling business. So is PR
the best step forward? Maybe. However, before you start calling up the agency and
preparing your chequebook do some research online on what basic PR is all about. If
you by now don’t know that the acronym PR stands for ‘Public Relations’ and not
‘Press Release’ you need to do some serious research online. Look through case
studies and PR agency portfolios as a start so you can get a sense of whether PR may
be relevant for you. The point to remember when you meet an agency is to ask the
right questions so you don’t come across as someone clueless and willing to pay for
everything but the kitchen sink instead of what you really need.
2. You’re not quite clear about your brand message
Whether you own a restaurant or a car cleaning service, if you don’t know who your
target audience is or what is your product’s USP (unique selling point) you’re not
going to be able to sell it to the media. A PR agency can definitely get your message
streamlined and sell it more effectively to the media but if you are not sure at the
start about the message and change your direction midway through the PR
campaign you’re going to waste serious time and money.
3. You don’t know what you want
There’s nothing more annoying for an agency than dealing with a client that knows
what they like but doesn’t know what they want. If you don’t have a clear set of
objectives for your business goals and expect your PR agency to put you on the front
page of a newspaper you probably need to go back to the drawing board.
4. You have bad internal communication processes
If you’re having issues communicating with your team and tend to disagree internally
occasionally on the way things are going within your company you can’t expect an
outside party to help you. Situations where business owners are at loggerheads or if
there are too many parties involved (shareholders, investors, etc) usually result in
missing deadlines and a messy outcome when it comes to PR. It’s also pretty
confusing for the agency dealing with you if they don’t know who is giving the right
5. You’re looking for someone to follow orders
Going back to my initial rant at the start of the article, this is an issue most agency
professionals face in PR– being micromanaged by the client. Many clients tend to
feel a PR agency’s role is an extension of their marketing department and to churn
out more sales content to the various publics including media (such as sending out
press releases every week). PR agency practitioners are experts in what they do
which is why clients pay them to get the job done. We really don’t need clients
telling us how to do our job. If you really feel that leaving your campaign in the
hands of an agency is too much of an issue, hire a marketing executive.
In summary you really need to get your internal act together before you invest in the time
and money to engage a PR agency for your brand. Apart from that, you also need to see an
agency as an asset to your team and not just a vendor.
If more clients see their agencies as strategic counsellors instead of worker bees this would
certainly pave the way for a more effective client agency relationship.
One last point to add. If any agency is willing to do whatever you ask for the sake of a fat
pay cheque its time you looked for another one.