Over the last six months this column has looked at some of the tools and techniques that go into many successful PR campaigns. In my final masterclass of this series Id like mention a factor often overlooked but none-the-less vital in achieving PR success: the development of a strong collaborative working relationship with your chosen adviser/consultancy.
As basic as it sounds, its surprising just how many businesses fail to grasp the importance of investing time and energy into this. So much of PR is about developing relationships with the media with stakeholders with third parties of all kinds that its easy to forget the most important relationship of all is the one between you and your advisers.
Many businesses fall into the trap of agreeing a PR plan and then leaving it to the experts to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat. Of course promises need to be delivered upon but by keeping close to the process and responding quickly to requests for information - the odds of a successful outcome are increased.
By developing an attitude of partnership instead of simply that of client and supplier you will establish a more powerful starting point.
Six tips to achieving the perfect PR partnership:
The X-Factor: Fundamentals such as appropriate skills and knowledge are of course essential but dont forget about chemistry. Thats why its important to invite consultancies or freelancers to pitch their ideas to you in person rather than by email. You need to know youre on the same wavelength.
Know the score: Regular progress meetings are essential to keep everyone on track. Monthly is usually sufficient but if theres a tight deadline - weekly conference calls where actions and responsibilities are agreed will keep everyone in the loop and potential problems can be identified and resolved quickly.
Be inclusive: If you have more than one creative/communications consultancy or adviser working for you its a good idea to get everyone together once or twice a year at least. This encourages the flow of information; facilitates communication and keeps people focused on the bigger picture and how they fit into it.
Be available: PR opportunities can be often lost because a journalists deadline is missed due to the spokesperson being unavailable. Investment in PR isnt just a financial one. It needs to be made a priority so that precious chances for publicity are not missed. A meeting can be moved but a media deadline wont be.
Expect change: Its often necessary to refine the PR strategy once the campaign is in progress so its important to agree with your advisers how this might affect the success criteria. Dont forget to regularly refer back to the revised plan to assess progress as the campaign unfolds.
Acknowledge success: While getting results is precisely what you are paying your advisers to do saying thank you can be a real boost to those who have worked long and hard to deliver them. Everyone likes to be appreciated.
Amanda Barry-Hirst is Head of Consultancy at Mistral PR, an environmental PR consultancy.