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So how do you know if you’re ready to work with a PR firm? How can you be a good client and get the most out of the relationship?
While it certainly depends on the type of company, the current state of the industry, and other factors, there are some general best practices for what a PR firm needs in order to maximize the success of a public relations program.
1) You are passionate and well-versed about the industry
One of the best parts about working in PR, from my perspective, is getting to work with such smart people on a daily basis. It makes our job so much easier when we feel confident that who we’re working with is truly an expert source in the industry. Good interviewees are enthusiastic about their products or services, which in turn can make the interviewer enthusiastic about sharing that story.
2) You have a vested interest in working with us and seeing the program succeed
Successful PR programs typically require the company to be active in the PR process. This can mean working with us to generate pitch ideas, walking through topics for an article, or even pointing out when you could have provided insight for a certain story. It just helps us do our job better, as we develop a more comprehensive understanding of the business. We strive to learn the company inside and out, but because you know your business best, it’s important to stay in communication with the PR team.
3) You are easily reached (and available) for media interviews
As an extension of the previous point, when we receive an interview request the reporter typically wants to talk that day (or sometimes a few days out). Communicating information we need in a timely manner (for pitches, questions from reporters etc.) is critical in working with journalists, who are often on deadline. If the source isn’t available, we may lose that opportunity and the reporter could turn to other sources in the future, who are available at a moment’s notice. While it’s not always realistic to abide by a reporter’s schedule, urgent deadlines are a reality in working with the media. Conversely, reporters are usually very thankful when a source comes through for them, and will often repay that gratitude by coming to you for requests later down the road.
4) You have great data and thought leadership
It’s true – reporters love statistics. If a company has existing research (perhaps that coincides with a marketing initiative), or has the capacity to handle a survey or other study that generates unbiased data, it’s the golden ticket to securing media coverage.
Walker Sands is great about identifying relevant opportunities, but you need to be willing to do some of the work to see those opportunities come to fruition.
Existing and regular thought leadership content, like blog posts or whitepapers, are also great fodder for those of us on the PR side. If it’s already written, it’s great to share with relevant reporters. We’ll have a lot of material to kick-off the PR program. If it’s not written, then it gives us the opportunity to pitch that topic to another blog or online outlet, for instance, and potentially obtain a guest post.
5) You’re seeking advice on how to improve your message to the media
Some businesses come into a program with a preconceived notion of what PR is all about. Sometimes they’re right, while in other instances that perception is slightly skewed. Regardless, it’s our job to educate you about what works, and what doesn’t. Need media training? We’re there for support. Have a potential PR crisis on hand? We’ll develop strategy and execute outreach. The important thing is to listen and be open to new ideas.
While this is by no means a comprehensive list, it’s a brief overview of what helps in developing and executing a successful PR program.