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.
Two weeks after the introduction of Google Instant, the new tool from the Google giant is a hot topic on the blogosphere. Google Instant is a new search enhancement that, unlike the previous search engine, enables results to change as you type. Will it or will it not affect the SEOs, this is the question at the moment, and PR is directly involved, since SEO copywriting is practically the basis for digital PR.
Search Engine Optimisation means getting search engines to really like your copy and become involved in a solid relationship with your site. If this happens, search engines will prove their commitment to this relationship by placing your site high up in the rankings on the result page. On the IT part, this is done through some spider like tools that extract keywords and create links and connections to search engines (short version for dummies). But as far as PR is concerned, this relationship is created through keywords, by doing keyword research and finding accurately targeted, appropriate keywords. There is a choice of inserting long or short tail keywords, depending on what better suits your content and audience.
For this reason, SEO copywriting is a highly valued asset for PR and of course, for companies in need of good copy. And as copywriters were starting to master this practice, Google released Instant to challenge their skills. TechCrunch, (btw a very visible site due to SEOs) was quick to take up the topic and has already carried a small study on the consequences of this new tool. It might be overdramatic to say that SEOs are dying but there are definitely consequences for both organic and paid search results.
Basically, since the search result page changes a few times before completing your search, more results than before are pushed after the fold. The ones at the top are favoured and show increases in driving traffic to sites, the ones in the middle are insignificantly pushed down but it’s bad news for the ones at the end as they are mostly sent on the second page. So, getting a top position on the search engine result page is now, more important than ever. For pay per click and adwords, this also means more competition for keywords.
Since suggestions constantly change while you’re typing, the most popular keywords will appear while the less popular combinations and long tail keywords to be less visible and drive less traffic. So less variety and more short tail keywords. There are benefits for local pay per click results as these are enhanced, in the lack of a specified location.
These are the changes noticed so far by the tech community, but we’ll be able to make more sense of it after a longer period of use, so there may be more or contrasting changes.
So what can we do about it? With the information available so far, it seems that there is nothing radically changing but it’s more a case of ‘if you haven’t done it so far, now it’s the time’. Keyword research to discover the popular varieties and using analytics to check which keywords drive more traffic and which not and compress or replace the long-tail ones are important.
The creative part of SEO copywriting is very much valid. Besides digital optimisations, content is still king. Factual information and a strong content strategy are essential for linking the digital to human commitment. The spider like tool might be easily tricked by dense keywords but customers usually aren’t.
Overall, the appearance of Google Instant is a good wake up call for all and it goes to prove, if proof were necessary, that new media is no steady business. Since social media is the new prodigy, new media are not that new and shiny anymore. A lot of knowledge and experience already exists in this field, so it’s rather easy to fall in the trap of seeing new media as a controlled phenomenon, with set practices. But every now and then something even newer comes up, proving that, at the fast pace we’re going, there is little time for expertise and much more for learning, improving and constantly updating. I wonder if someone there at Google is having a good laugh about all this…
http://techcrunch.com/2010/09/21/guest-post-how-google-instant-can-help-and-hurt-seo/ (link for techcrunch)