October 29, 2015
At first hand, how protective do we feel about our businesses? the money, sweat and late nights we pour in to them, the simple truth is, not every business should or is ready to hire PR support. And not every PR agency is suitable to work with a startup or an established business. Nowadays, great communication is the difference between the rapid acquisition of customers and fast growth, or the slow death of your idea as it is pecked to death by more agile competitor.
An agency helps you establish leadership, as the top players in your sector and places your products and services in trend-setting position they deserve. In these days of social media, we all know that how an endorsement of an influential peer or a journalist, we respect, is worth more than a thousand advertisements.
Hiring an agency is a smart move, only if you have clear objectives for your business and resources to support your investment. Sounds obvious, but if you don’t know where your business is going, you’re not in a position to get that right first, know your product and know its place in the market.
A good agency assesses your business objectives and help you to shape a communications plan which supports and enhances them. Your own network and channels form the very foundation of a community which revolves around your business, but when that network reaches its capacity to deliver what your business needs, to differentiating yourself in a noisy marketplace the correct way is by hiring an agency.
What you’re buying by hiring an agency is a network of quality relationships in your sector that extends beyond your own, and strategic expertise on how to the make the most out of them. A good communications agency acts as a brokerage between your brand and the media. It understands the needs of media businesses and the people who work in them, as well as, it knows your objectives, bringing them on a common platform. The agency’s job is to spend its time working out how to bring them together in lucrative ways for both parties to excel. The benefit of great relationships is the ability to audit ideas, an agency with really strong ties to media can test a campaign idea to see if it will fly, before you waste time and effort on something that would not work thereby saving energy and resources.
Nowadays an agency can offer a suite of services including media relations, social strategy, content strategy and production, often described as ‘below the line’ marketing, or earned media. Broadly, it’s about getting influence and recommendation from a respected third party in the news, on twitter and other social networking websites. The alternative is paid ‘above the line’ media, which is traditional advertising through TV, outdoor, etc. One may well need a mix of both.
A PR agency approach is that it will first try to understand, what a client wants to get out of the relationship. PR can be about changing negative perceptions, telling potential customers about a new product or service and demonstrating that the client company is trustworthy and one to do business with and educating masses about a product or service. The goal of successful PR is to build long-standing positive rapport with the people who matter, including customers, employees, investors, media and the public at large.
A PR agency works with clients to create a communications plan. The plan may consider competitive advantage, position in the market, challenges faced by the client, a PR strategy, timings, measurement and tactics/methods and tools. While traditionally print articles, such as those in newspapers, industry journals and magazines formed a key component of an effective PR campaign, with the expanding access to information online, PR companies are increasingly taking advantage of online resources such as online news sites, blogs, social media and forums. Agencies also help to arrange analytical participation in a client’s event or whitepapers or surveys.
There are a number of tactics that a PR agency uses. The most common is media (and now increasingly blogger and social media websites) relations. The PR agency works with a client to create content, press releases, articles, research, whitepapers, case studies and blog posts. With this content, PR agencies target media/bloggers/social media websites by pitching them and offering information for a story. Nonetheless, the content can be used by sales teams and can be used on client’s website too.
When you hire an agency, you not only get a whole team’s perspective and background but also you hire years of experience behind them. Again, good communications is about networks in the media, among other peer businesses and in culture. So by hiring an agency with a bunch of smart, connected people can hugely increase your chance of making useful connections with partners and have a cutting edge over competition.
PR agencies know how to create content, from running Facebook campaigns to managing Twitter feeds and writing blog posts, apart from the traditional press releases. Agencies know how to target other websites to gain exposure, so this ties in with targeting sites to gain natural links through engaging content which helps in building brands. Many agencies are now working with clients on integrated search, social and PR campaigns in view of the major need for every business to be visible in the virtual space.