When flicking through the business pages of your chosen daily newspaper, scanning the pages of a business publication in your accountant’s waiting room, or studying an in-depth feature in a trade publication you subscribe to, you don’t often consider the journey of that article before it was printed on to the glossy pages in front of you.
A fundamental part of handling a company’s PR is their ‘Account Management’. We are regularly asked, quite rightly, what this actually entails. Account Management is the umbrella that constitutes for all the hard work that goes into boosting that client’s profile.
These are as follows:
In-depth research is required in order to write a significant and relevant press release that the media are going to want to use. Initially we carry out research into the products and services of our clients, and then we look at what is new/innovative/recent/newsworthy. Alongside this we will research industry trends and requirements from the press. This can be a lengthy process as there is a lot of content out there, and we find a way to hit the mark correctly.
Response to media requests
There is no possible way of determining how much time we will spend on a certain client’s activity. In fact each day in a PR office is quite spontaneous. We receive media requests from journalists sporadically throughout the week, which can consume the time you have originally allocated to another task. This then can lead to additional media coverage enhancing the profile of a client’s business further
Developing relationships with key journalists is the most fundamental factor in gaining coverage for a business. Much time is spent liaising with journalists to get them to recognise your company’s brand and services so that they are aware of whom to call on when they want information in a certain field.
Conceptualisation is integrated into all of our client’s Marketing Communications Strategies. This is the creative process that involves generating ideas for campaigns and stories in sight of raising the profile of a company. This is developed alongside the research element of account management.
Gauging your return on investment for PR activity is a grey area. Without paying extreme amounts for a full press clippings service then it is hard to know exactly every publication your content has been published in. Our team put many processes in place (Google Alerts, monitoring applications, individual searches, media relations) to decipher as much coverage as we can. We then measure this against the advertising charges for that publication/site. PR is arguably more valuable than advertising as it places you as industry leaders and experts in the field. The traditional method is to multiply the advertising value by three in order to work out an effective AVE figure.
Communication & Meetings
We ensure that we maintain regular contact with all of our clients, keeping them updated with activity and other things going on in their industry. We regularly make suggestions on things that they can be doing, i.e. answering questions on LinkedIn as an expert in their field. Every little helps!
We also ensure that we schedule in regular bi-monthly meetings face to face in order to keep everything up-to-date on their contract. Some of the best stories can come out of these meetings without the client noticing there is a story in something that may have happened. If two of our team members attend these meetings then it can take a significant amount of time out of our working calendar.
Many clients will hold events for various occasions. As their partner in PR we like to make sure we have a presence at anything like this. It shows support to our client and also gives us more of an insight into the type of company they are.
Hopefully this blog gives you more of a rounded view of what account management entails with regards to PR. Quite a lot of work, eh?
Recognising the value in public relations is fundamental to a series of successful campaigns and a significant profile raise. Many companies take a PR agency for granted and expect them to magic stories out of the blue. However, a strong relationship is needed between the client and PR if anything good is ever going to come of the contract.
At Bridge, we like our clients to be aware of the real value of PR, and understand what their responsibilities are – after all it is all about communicating the right messages correctly!
1. Develop a comprehensive PR brief
You wouldn’t jump into a pool without knowing how to swim and where you wanted to get to. Prevent your PR campaign from sinking by having a detailed brief on what your business wants to obtain from it. Also, be honest about your budget! If the financial perimeter is set then the agency will not go overboard on their creative proposal, resulting in the company being let down when they don‘t have the finances to support it. If the seeds are sown correctly with a clear goal ahead, then your business will only reap the rewards of a vibrant PR strategy.
2. Maintain regular contact
PR is not intended for sales leads – that is what your sales team are for, however it is important that your agency are able to liaise with the sales team in order to sync the information that is going out in the public domain. If the sales team are regularly updated with info from the PR side then they can refer to it in their sales patter. Speaking to your PR agency regularly will keep your business at the forefront of the PR teams minds, and that foundation of a relationship will enable them to prosper in the work they carry out for you.
3. Frequent face to face meetings
In our experience the best stuff comes from meeting clients face to face. Although we currently live in a digitally dominated society, human nature can prevail all. Face to face conversations have the ability to develop a corporate personality more than any other medium. We have had recent meetings with clients who are very busy people, and some of the best stories come as we are about to walk out of the door and they say “oh did I tell you we’ve just won a massive contract…”
4. Tell them EVERYTHING
A PR agency can only be as good as the information they are provided with. Keep the PR agency updated with the happenings of your company as they will always be researching newsworthy angles in relation to what is going on in your marketplace. If you keep the PR team in the loop when it comes to news and business developments confidentiality will not be a problem as good agencies will always run content past you for approval first. Remember – they are working as part of your team!
5. Identify your ‘Bibles’
Whilst carrying out research on your PR campaign it is vital that you identify the key publications you want to be appearing in. Most publications provide media packs on who their readership is and what the circulation is. Maybe you are a local business and just want to appear in the local newspapers? Whatever the situation is you need to make the agency aware of this so that they can focus their material to the style and format of that specific publication. This way they will also begin to develop stronger relationships with the editors and reporters to ensure you receive regular coverage with them.
Today is another special day in the life of The Factory. It marks the launch of episode 2 of this light-hearted, but surprisingly funny mini-series that follows the exploits of the hapless and likeable David and Gareth (who you will recognise from a look-alike confident, but inept office manager in Slough, and his side-kick). They are searching for the perfect ERP solution which kicked off with an introductory episode released in February 2009. So successful was the first episode that the follow on video has become a “must view”. In reality, David is a factory boss who is out of touch with modern business systems of today, and he is under pressure to seek out companies who are using ERPs to give their businesses a real edge. His first stop is a company called Astute Electronics, one of the world’s leading suppliers of fully tested and warranted electronic components. So what, you might ask. Electronics can be a dull subject for most of us, and another press release about a business solution might not rock everyone’s boat. This is where The Factory comes into its own. Each episode is so well done and captures the expressions of David’s bemusement in the world of commerce. Here at Bridge we are thoroughly enjoying supporting this viral marketing campaign through online and traditional PR, and we look forward to each episode with bated breath, and much anticipation. You can follow The Factory at http://www.k3scs.com/thefactory. You will have to register to gain access to the full version of each episode, but it’s worth doing. And of course, not forgetting the plug for Bridge – if you want help with your online or print-based PR, then we’re the experts. Just pick up the phone, or email us. 024 7655 3333 / firstname.lastname@example.org