I get asked by a lot of friends whether I’m enjoying my new job in the PR industry (it’s still new apparently even though I’ve been working for Open Comms for just short of a year) and then they pause and say, “actually, what is PR?”
Lots of people seem to not know much about the Public Relations sector (perhaps we’re all too busy promoting other people’s industries rather than our own?) which is why people can often be quite reluctant to approach an agency when considering what’s the best way to promote a new product or raise their company profile.
In the same way you’d ask lots of different questions before buying a new car or house, any good agency should be happy to answer any questions you may have about what it is they do and the way they work.
Last month I saw an article on Real Business about nine questions to ask your PR company, so I thought I’d answer them from our perspective in the hope that it might clear up any questions you might have.
1. What experience do you have in my industry sector?
We work with a wide variety of clients, from funeral directors to farm shops; legal firms to confectionery brands; shopping centres to document specialists. Whether you’re or a one man band, or the head of a multi-national corporation, we have plenty of experience in a variety of different sectors and can help build up relations with other businesses, consumers or even internally.
2. Can I see recent press coverage?
We’re always happy to show off our results. Despite it being part of our daily activity, all three of us get a buzz each time we achieve coverage for a client (I’m known in particular for breaking out into a little celebratory dance every time I turn the page and see one of our press releases) so it really is no problem to ask to see the kind of results we get. We can demonstrate a wide range of coverage, so whether you want to look at examples of profiling pieces, local news stories, business features, trade stories, web copy or newsletters, we will be able to demonstrate our work to date.
3. Can I speak to some of your current clients?
Yes, we’re very proud of our relationships with clients, and will be more than happy to put you in touch with someone for a reference. In fact, when recently applying to be approved by the Recommended Agency Register, our clients positively rated us within 24 hours of being asked!
4. Are you working for any competitors?
We only work for one client at a time within a particular sector so we’re not competing for time or space. If you’d like to chat to us about whether we’re already working for a competitor or not, please do feel free to send us an e-mail or speak to any of us on the phone.
5. What kind of outcomes can you realistically deliver?
As an agency, we pride ourselves on managing expectations. Although we get as excited as you do about your good news, we never promise the world to a client. We will always discuss realistic targets and goals, and then go above and beyond to try and achieve this.
6. How quickly can you respond to breaking news?
We monitor news coverage every single day and always respond to relevant topics as soon as possible. Open Communications also offer Crisis 24/7 – a service that means we can be contacted any time, day or night, if your company is facing a crisis and needs a statement drafted straight away and someone to direct any journalist enquiries to.
7. What additional services can you add?
Open Communications offer more than just a press office. We can provide a variety of services, whether you’re looking for crisis management, marketing solutions, social media activity, a communications audits, or copy for a website or brochure.
8. Who will I deal with?
We’re a purposefully small team – it means that we all know what’s going on at all times, and even though you may have a specific contact or someone who works on the majority of your account, you can speak to anyone here. We always bounce ideas off each other and get a second opinion on press releases and suggestions, so you’ll have input from at least one Director, no matter who you’re speaking to.
9. Do I really want to work with an agency?
Having an external party work on the projects that you care about and the name that you try so hard to protect can be very daunting. That’s why we always work as an extension to your team rather than a third party. We have very strong relationships with ours clients and get to know them well. We’re always hear to offer advice or explain our suggestions, so there’s no need to worry about a lack of communication or understanding.
So, if after reading this you’d like to have a quick chat on the phone, pop round for a cup of tea or have a more formal conversation, please do get in touch with any one from the team and we’ll be more than happy to oblige!