I recently read a blog post summarizing advice to agencies about what the C-suite wishes their PR team or agency understood. Some of the tips were insightful and inspired me to share some guidance on conveying the impact and purpose of public relations to the executive team. After all, the best communication is always a conversation.
- Rome wasn’t built in a day. Most consumers want to connect to brands emotionally and that requires trust and credibility. These are things built over time (and that can be undone in a moment). Media coverage doesn’t solely come from news or press releases. It comes from systematically building relationships, which depend on consistently feeding reporters valuable information and tips, even if it’s not always your clients’ news. Stay committed to the campaign.
- PR isn’t transactional. It’s relational. Building a story (correctly) and a following take time. When a C-suite exec asks me why I can’t pick up the phone and land a story in The Wall Street Journal, I ask why their top sales person can’t pick up the phone and close a sale that day. There’s a process, and if you ignore the process, you’re left with press releases… and only press releases.
- Share your vision. In order for the communications team to communicate the direction and future of the business, the vision needs to be shared. Convey this to your PR professional or team so they can be do things now to prepare for where the business is trying to go. Rather than using the PR team’s knowledge gaps against them, empower them by educating them about your business. You might be surprised by the questions and advice you get, and certainly you’ll be surprised by the results.
- Honey, not vinegar. This is a secret rarely admitted aloud. Everyone does their best work for those people they like. It’s true among bosses, colleagues and clients. Make an effort to connect with your agency team, and keep the relationship collegial and they will go to bat for you.
- We’re more than megaphones. Communicators have to manage many, many relationships to do what they need to do. If you view them as simply amplifying what your company says, you’re not getting full value. Your PR person can shape your story, help you navigate tricky situations or crises, and gather intelligence through listening.
- Let them call bullshit, and don’t take it personally. A PR person will poke and prod and call you on your story’s faults. That’s a good thing. Let them. They can help make your story ready for the real onslaught from external groups, including the media and competitors. Take your blows from the PR team so you’re prepared when you’re fielding questions from a journalist or customer. Your PR program will only be stronger as a result.
Read more posts in our blog series on creating your 2019 marketing strategy.