PR 101: what you need to know before you engage a PR agency

- October 12, 2018 3 MIN READ

Getting your brand ready for Public Relations sounds like a strange concept however what many businesses don’t realise is that there needs to be some foundations in place to enable a PR agency to do their job successfully.

There also needs to be some understanding on your end of what exactly to expect to enable you to get the most out of PR and avoid disappointment. Sure, there are some things that a PR agency can do for you, however if you’d prefer to hit the ground running with your strategy, then consider some basics before engaging with a PR firm.

Understand what PR actually is

At the risk of sounding a little condescending, try to understand what PR is before setting up that first meeting. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t know what PR was until I actually worked in the industry. I still get asked on a daily basis what I do and the short answer is that PR creates a positive public perception with the public through communication via various earned (unpaid) media. There’s a lot more to it than that, however if what need is an advertising campaign on TV, buses and billboards, it would wise to do a bit of research first! Yes, we can provide great marketing and advertising suggestions that will amplify PR campaigns, but predominantly, we don’t buy ad spaces on TV.

Get your brand assets together

It might sound like business 101 having brand assets, but for PR, assets are what can literally make or break your brand. Depending on what industry you’re in, ensure that you have image assets that are superior quality and high resolution (this means that Publicists can pitch them out to magazines who will need to blow up the photo without it looking grainy). This is a particularly important for beauty and fashion brands – your assets are what makes your brand marketable. Yes, style, trends and functionality are important, but ultimately it needs to look great on the page. 

Consider your brand story

Sure you might have a cool and on-trend product however it is important to consider your brand story. What makes your product or service especially unique? Why would an editor consider your brand over a myriad of others out there? Your brand story will not only give your brand a personality in the eyes of the consumer, but it will allow for further PR hooks beyond your standard product placement. 

Understand lead times

PR is very different in nature compared to marketing or advertising and it needs to be treated that way. If you’re working on a launch of a particular campaign or product, be sure to engage with PR at least 4 months beforehand. Please be mindful that PR takes time simply because of lead times. For example, long lead publications like monthly magazines work roughly 4 months in advance, so whilst a publicist will be working away, you won’t see those results for at least 4 months. Weekly magazines often work to a 4 week timeline and online sites can be about 2 weeks (and that’s not even factoring their scheduling – that is, the content they already have mapped out ready to go). With a bit of luck your PR agent will have some great contacts that can ensure some quick wins, but please be patient for the rest. 

Understand that PR is hard to measure 

Clients often ask about what kind of ROI they’re going to get from PR. Well unfortunately, this is a really tricky question. The response you might get from an agency might seem convoluted or evasive and this is because it’s really difficult to truly measure PR. Sure, we can do a bit of PR SEO and link back to your site and you can measure through spikes in sales, but can you truly measure brand awareness, positive brand perception and improved reputations? These are the truly intangible things that PR can successfully create, in addition to those spikes in sales that you might see. So before disregarding PR, consider whether you want create a positive perception amongst consumers, build brand awareness and garner a reputation for being the best – all of that is very hard to measure! 

Consider PR as a long-term investment

Generating ongoing publicity that has consumers continually talking about your brand can take months, or even years. Yes, we can create short campaigns that generate a lot of publicity (seemingly overnight) but once the excitement winds down, these are simply a flash in the pan. PR needs to be considered as a long term investment, an ongoing asset that will build your brand to where it needs to be. 

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