5 Things to Consider Before Working with a PR Agency

So, you work for a great company or put years into building your own business and recognize that now is the time to spread the news and tell the world about your brand.

Congratulations, you’re that much closer to getting your brand noticed.

But before you seek professional PR help, it’s important to pause and take an inward look to identify key points that will help you and your agency clearly understand what you’re trying to achieve and what your brand message is.

For an effective PR campaign, media relations efforts should align with your company’s goals, business objectives, and brand voice. Establishing clear and concise messaging is key to connecting with your target audience and is the foundation to building meaningful relationships and generating relevant coverage. To ensure your brand will gain success from working with a PR agency, here are five things to consider first:

1. Get to know your brand
Can you describe your company or brand in 100 words? What about 50 words? Ten words, or five? This can actually be a more challenging task than some might imagine. Narrowing down your core messages and value proposition will unearth what’s important to your brand. Once you know what you want to say, your PR agency will figure out how to say it and who to say it to.

Here are a few questions to help you identify your brand:

  • How is your brand currently perceived?
  • Who is using or listening to your brand?
  • What does your brand stand for? What is important?
  • Who are your competitors? What are your points of differentiation?
  • Who do you want to connect with? What do you want to tell them about your brand?

2. Define your news
In order to warrant coverage, your brand must have a news angle or hook. To anticipate the appropriate media response it’s important to understand the type of news you’re pitching. Is your announcement timely? Does it tie into a holiday, event, or milestone? Is your news ‘hard news’ or ‘soft news’?

If your news must be reported immediately, and directly affects or interests the public (economics, politics or milestones), it’s considered ‘hard news.’ If your announcement is entertaining, pulls on heartstrings, and doesn’t immediately impact the public it’s considered ‘soft news.’ Regardless of the type of news you’re trying to tell, it must be told with a relevant angle to garner media attention.

3. Define your goals and objectives
Before executing a campaign, it’s important for you and your PR agency to understand what success looks like for your brand. This will allow your agency to focus on what matters most and work within set guidelines and accurately measure KPIs. Whether your brand focus is on reputation management, relationship building, a specific task (i.e, attracting your audience to an event, lifting sales, or generating clickbacks), or a combination of the above, your goals should be specific, measurable, realistic, and timely. Tell us what you want and we’ll tell you what it’ll take to get there.

Here are a few questions to help you define your PR goals:

  • What’s your ideal publication?
  • What would your ideal headline read?
  • By what metrics will you measure success?
  • Where are you trying to direct people? What behaviour or steps are you hoping to introduce or change?
  • Is there an opportunity for your brand to highlight a specific angle or take part in a larger conversation? 

4. Designate a spokesperson
While having a designated spokesperson available for your announcement isn’t mandatory, it can certainly add value to your messaging and increase your chances of gaining media attention for your brand. Select an individual or few key people from your organization that have the experience and knowledge to speak to your announcement and ensure they’ll be available for interviews. Journalists work on tight deadlines, so it’s imperative to be available or there’s a chance you’ll miss out on the opportunity.

If there isn’t a seasoned individual in the company, don’t fret, your agency will provide the training and coaching to help them deliver great interviews.

Here are some questions to help you select a spokesperson:

  • Who has authority in the company?
  • Is there someone with charisma and passion?
  • Who has first-hand experience with the brand?
  • Who can stay on point and clearly express an idea, concept or event?
  • Who’s available at all hours to partake in phone or face-to-face interviews?

5. Provide value
Before meeting with your agency, take a peek at your existing data and bring a few key points to the table. Going into a meeting with statistics, and information about your brand and customers may complement an existing idea or inspire a fantastic new idea. Though a relevant association between a statistic and story angle may not be obvious to you, your PR agency will use these points to come up with campaigns, pitch notes, and so much more.

Here are some questions to help you pull basic data:

  • Who are your website visitors?
  • What are your visitors doing?
  • What demographic uses your brand?
  • Where are they using or purchasing your brand?
  • What is the lifestyle/behavioural patterns of the people who use your brand?
  • What direction is your brand growing? Compare year-over-year data
  • What sells best or are your peak hours of usage?

Representing a client is all about communicating the right message; and in order to effectively add value to your brand, it’s important to understand what this means to you and your team. Working with a third party agency to handle your communications messaging and outreach provides an opportunity for a clearer perspective and chance to breathe new ideas into your existing brand story.

If you’re interested in learning about our services or just want to say ‘hi’, contact us at hello@88creative.ca or email charlene@88creative.ca.

Charlene is the PR Director at 88 Creative. You can follow her on Instagram at @charlenasariahanne.