People Relations: 3 PR Relationships to Strengthen
We celebrated some pretty terrific hits this quarter at Walker Sands: from a co-founder and CEO profile in FORTUNE, to fitness advice from an inhouse expert alongside celeb self-care tips, to breaking the news of a client’s acquisition with a CNBC exclusive, to a customer case study in an important healthcare vertical, and more.
No matter how long you’ve been a professional in consumer PR, tech PR or startup PR, you still get a thrill when you see your tireless efforts brought to life in the targets where you’re aiming. What is often less public – and arguably less celebrated – is the nontangible work happening behind-the-scenes to earn those media and content wins. When stripped of strategies, tactics and tools, PR is about relationships. Especially on the agency side, we must dedicate time and devote resources to cultivating three key PR relationships.
- Colleagues: Early in my career, I received really terrible guidance that I’m glad I never followed. It went something like, “Don’t bother becoming friends with coworkers, because you are here only to work and shouldn’t make time for anything else.” It didn’t make sense then, and it certainly doesn’t now as I build and direct account teams. Investing in our colleagues creates trust and respect, which then leads to loyal team members who commit to delivering even when the work gets hard and intense. It helps to care genuinely about the people sharing 40+ hours of your week. Then that investment in building colleague relationships becomes the opposite of a distracting “time suck,” contrary to that unsolicited advice I received.
- Clients: When it comes to account service, one of our basic goals is to become our client’s partner – not simply another, easily-replaced vendor in their procurement system. To become a partner, yes, we need to be smart, strategic and creative in our counsel and practice. We also need to learn what motivates our clients, what makes them come to work every day, as the best collaboration comes from camaraderie rooted in relationships that dig deeper than the work itself. Read more about establishing a strong client/agency partnership in Ragan’s PR Daily.
- Influencers: Perhaps the most obvious of this list are the relationships we build and sustain with journalists, content creators and other influencers, the results of which often seem to lead most directly to those applauded media relations wins. While I believe a good story is what ultimately lands coverage, it is our relationships with influencers that help us get a chance to tell that story. We see real results happen when we’re intentional in getting to know media – studying what they cover and what interests them personally. Sure, there’s an argument to be made for being straightforward and sticking to what’s closely relevant. Yet, there’s still room to nurture our relations with media and to foster those connections between media and the clients themselves. It shouldn’t always be around a pitch either. Reach out even when you don’t need something in return to invest in your influencer relationships, because media are people, too!