If you're PR and social media happy, then we're happy for you. But stop and think. What is your agency doing for you right now? You might be happy...but how happy?
We ask because we are surprised at the number of people, brands and companies we've met over the years that are far from happy. No? Go to an exhibition or industry event and introduce yourself as a PR. Then feel the reaction. First, these events shouldn't be used by PR's to 'tout' for business, but most can't resist. "Ah ha," they say. "We spot an opportunity for some free promo! We don't want to pay for a stand, so we'll exploit the fact that these companies have invested thousands to come here to promote their business, build customer relationships and makes sales, but we'll just pop on, cold call them to try and sell our PR services." Great call!
OMG, not another PR Agency!
See the roll of the eyes as the person you meet reacts with, "OMG, you're the 30th PR agency to come here today," or: "Nope, we do it ourselves because we've used agencies before and it didn't work for us." Of course we're generalising, but this is often the case when you meet SMEs and business owners, not so much the big corporates whose decision-makers rarely venture to the fore.
But, here's the flip-side. "When you delve below the surface and enquire about how the agency was briefed, what targets they were set and how their achievements were evaluated, quite often you're met with a different response. Often it's, "I don't know, they just 'did our PR'." Whatever that means!
The PR equivalent of a bad hair day!
So, here's an analogy. You get a bad haircut. Now, either the barber or hairdresser is appalling, and let's face it, there are plenty of those. Or, maybe you didn't tell them what you wanted, or communicate what you expected in terms of a result? Maybe, just maybe you are partly responsible for your crap hair do! Or maybe you did explain but they just didn't listen because they're too hellbent on how they do what they do, and you'll have it their way, or no way. So what now? Are you NEVER going to get another haircut, ever again, because you had a bad experience? Good luck with that and your audition for a cameo in the next Jumanji movie!
The reality is, yes there are rubbish PRs. But there are also a lot of good ones that either don't have the right briefing processes, or they start acting for a client and agreeing fees before they even know what they're supposed to be doing. Of course there are other circumstances that can cause agency/client tensions, but these kind of cover the basics.
Where PR, social and digital media are concerned, a lack of clarity in the brief, aligning activities and expectations to investment, and ensuring the both the client and agency know what results are expected, are pretty important. But. We are surprised that often briefing questions can't be answered by the client, even when asked. Such as. "OK, so you want 'media coverage'", what amount of coverage is required? Don't know? "OK, social media-wise, what defines success? Not sure? Well do you measure it in terms of community size, post engagement, quality and quantity of content, PPC/social marketing ROI for example? OK, you don't know..." and so it continues...not always, but like we said, you'd be surprised!
I demand some DETAIL!
So, as much as blog waffling is fun, let's cut to the chase. DEMAND the detail from your agency. Make sure they know what to achieve and by when. How much coverage? Give numbers and of course define the media and types of audience demographic they need to reach. Client: "So you got a product placement in the Womble Common Gazette and it's also duplicated in their 20 associated local rags! Great, but I want my hair cosmetics to be seen by salon owners!" Doh! Social media. Set targets e.g. community size/monthly growth, number and types of content, how your social marketing investment will be spent and what it must deliver in terms of a return. These are just some examples that, resolved, can end the PR equivalent of a bad hair day!
It's a reason why VIViD has created 'The Briefing' too. This process is designed to succeed so it can't fail you, or us. We like happy clients feeling great, so ask yourself again...how happy are you, really? We'd love to discuss what we can do for you but, at the very least, take this to your agency and start setting some goals and benchmarks. Don't mention it...