By Catriona Pollard, director, CP Communications

So you’ve decided that you want to hire a PR agency. You want to boost sales, raise your profile in the industry and increase awareness of your business among current and prospective customers.

Your relationship with your PR agency starts from the very beginning: the initial pitching, proposals and strategy sessions. Effective management of this relationship and an understanding of the activities and capabilities of your agency results in a happier agency and can mean higher return on investment.

Follow these tips to ensure a strong relationship that will deliver great campaigns, coverage and increased awareness of your business.

Brief the agency thoroughly – Let them into the inner circle and show them trust. In your first meeting, introduce the agency to the company, product, target audience and background. The more the agency knows, the better they can find stories and build your profile with the right people.

Understand PR – If you haven’t worked with a PR agency before, it’s a great idea for you and the key members of your business to be trained in what PR is. PR is not well understood, and the better you understand it, the more you will get out of it.

Get media trained – A great way to be covered in the media is to talk to journalists. If you and your key staff have not been involved with the media previously, get an expert trainer in to teach you how to manage media interviews and get your key messages across. Your PR agency may even do this for you.

Set reasonable expectations – Be aware that PR is a long-term investment and takes time. Don’t trust an agency that tells you they will have you on television next month. Do create a calendar of activities that clearly outlines when particular media releases, etc. will be distributed.

Maintain communication – Aim to meet with the agency face-to-face once a month to discuss upcoming activities, but be prepared to be in email or phone contact almost every day for approvals, information and planning.

Ultimately, you must be able to place trust in your PR agency, and this is dependent on two things: the agency delivering on their promises, and you delegating responsibility. Don’t micromanage the agency, this could inhibit their creativity and result in a good, rather than great, PR campaign.

Working with a PR agency is one of the best ways to increase awareness and the profile of your brand. By being aware of how PR agencies work and spending the necessary time working with them, you will develop a long-lasting and beneficial relationship.

Catriona Pollard
BY Catriona Pollard ON 21 September 2011
Director, CP Communications, which provides specialist PR and social media strategies that achieve positive media coverage, increased brand awareness and improved sales results.