Sandra Stewart | October 16, 2017
When your PR efforts are strategically grounded—they support specific business goals, you have a plan tailored to those goals, you’ve established ways to measure success—determining whether they’re worthwhile is pretty straightforward. But how do you know if you’re getting as much as you possibly can from your investment?
Based on our experience with clients who’ve gotten the most out of us, if you do all seven things on this list, you’ll squeeze every last drop of value from your PR team—whether you’re working with in-house communications staff, an agency or both.
1. Be open to different ways to tell your story. A good PR team will regularly develop fresh approaches. These angles won’t always feel comfortable at the outset, but trust that your team knows how to navigate the sometimes mysterious forces at play (X is suddenly boring, Y suddenly compelling), appeal to journalists and get you in the spotlight.
2. Be honest—with your team and with yourself. Your PR team needs to know your enterprise’s weaknesses so they can focus attention on your strengths—and avoid inadvertently exposing you to unflattering scrutiny, wasting time on pitches you can’t support or promoting benefits your customers won’t verify.
3. Don’t spin your PR team. Executives sometimes give their PR team a report on the business or a product that reflects what they hope will be reality in the nearish future, rather than actual reality. They do this because that’s the description they want to be public. Big mistake. The minute a reporter starts digging, the truth will come out, and everyone’s credibility will be compromised.
4. Use your team as a sounding board. Ideas that sound great within a tight circle of insiders can wilt in the sun. Your PR team can help you tease out possible reactions from key audiences and evaluate the storytelling potential in new initiatives. This works in reverse, too: don’t hold back on an idea because you think it’s lame. A PR strategist might see the kernel of a successful campaign.
5. Ask for feedback. Don’t assume your PR team will always volunteer ways you or other leaders can improve on interview responses, presentations, speeches and the like. Sometimes they will, but they’ll also worry about bruising egos. Don’t waste the creative energy and communications expertise you have at your disposal—tap it, and you’ll know what works as well as what needs work.
6. Be accessible. If you want media coverage, make it a priority. That means your spokespeople jump on your PR team’s requests, do interviews even when it’s inconvenient, and will take a chance on up-and-coming outlets or channels. It’s also important to be real about what you can do: if your sharpest minds have no time to devote to your thought leadership strategy or just aren’t into it, your PR team will struggle to deliver. Optimal results require optimal participation.
7. Keep your team in the know. When your PR people know what’s going on in the business, they’ll be well equipped to promote positive developments, prepare you for blowback on negative news and execute the smartest strategies for the long and the short term. And try not to spring news on them—the more time you give them to prepare, the better results you’ll get.