It recently emerged that Adele is no longer allowed to tweet without first running her tweets by her management team as a precaution against using Twitter while drunk. This got me thinking more generally about some of the key benefits of having outside help. Whether your customers are consumers (like Adele’s) or b2b like most of our clients, it’s good to have someone to collaborate with to stop mistakes being made and show the best, rather than worst of you. No-one wants to engage with drunk, boring or incoherent communications and while we don’t police the drinking we can help our clients with making communications really sing.
Agreeing on a strong message – Working with a good PR team should be a collaborative experience that improves the quality of the messages you communicate rather than just editing out the bad stuff or diluting the message. Messaging is generally the starting point where the agency works to understand your business and the challenges facing your customers, and then uses this to form the key messages that you want to communicate to the market. They are still your company’s messages, just conveyed in a way that makes them a bit more interesting to journalists and aligned with the key industry issues that interest your customers.
A sounding board – While CEOs and marketing managers are the experts on their own business, it can be useful to sound ideas out with someone else not as closely involved with the nuts and bolts, especially if you have been working on the same thing for a while. Running drafts of whitepapers or intended conversation points by your PR agency can help ensure what you are saying is simple to understand and is aimed at the intended audience. Brainstorming with your agency is another good way to come up with fresh ideas, either if there is an important company announcement you would like to make the most of or if you want to come up with a creative idea to generate some coverage. Brainstorming can also be particularly useful to come up with campaign ideas around a new product area or if you are looking to target a specific market.
Specialist experience – Working in the industry means that we can generally gauge what a journalist’s reaction will be before we contact them. Most importantly, you need to be clear on your facts before engaging with the media for publicity. For example, in the early days of cloud, many companies claimed to offer cloud services without fully understanding what this meant. This only served to frustrate journalists looking to cover more cloud stories – their time was wasted by press releases from companies that weren’t actually offering cloud. Working with your PR team can also help you decide if what you are saying is compelling to journalists or is just adding to the noise they hear every day – for example, is that latest software update REALLY going to ‘disrupt’ the market? Is the potential damage from a cyber-attack REALLY as serious as a nuclear bomb?
Getting your time back – It can be hard to keep on top of sending a regular stream of company news to your audience when you are firefighting a massive customer problem or in back to back meetings for weeks on end. On the other hand, if you use the outsourced time and brainpower of your agency, then you can use your time more effectively. If your agency understands your business properly, they should be able to draft any copy for you to review and make minimal edits, and convey key company messages on your behalf when speaking to the press.
While it’s good to be able to do things yourself, there are only so many hours in the day, and there are probably other areas of marketing or product development where your time could be better spent rather than doing PR yourself. This is even more important if you are already paying for a PR agency: you should be getting the value out of them and using them to improve how you engage with your audience.