During my career I have often thought about how businesses count the cost of PR without really understanding its value.
While browsing my social media channels last week, I came across a post that had been shared far and wide. It really resonated with me, and those I am connected with too. It reads:
“If I do a job in 30 minutes, it’s because I spent 10 years learning how to do that in 30 minutes. You owe me for the years, not the minutes.”
Having worked in the PR industry for more than 20 years, I appreciate the sentiment behind the words. For me, my training started when I was at college. I then did a four-year degree before securing my first full time position.
So, in total, my academic training was at least six years. That said, you never stop learning in PR, so it would be fair to suggest it is actually upwards of two decades.
PR is an investment
As a professional, it can be a challenge to explain to people that PR is an investment. Of course, any business will consider the cost, but they should also appreciate the value.
PR is about managing the reputation of a brand and business. Arguably, the biggest asset of any company. Without a reputation you have nothing. Putting the right amount of time, effort and budget behind it is essential.
Getting the balance right will ensure that companies get the results they are looking for.
Return on investment
Every organisation wants a return on investment. Having launched Open Communications more than 11 years ago, I understand this whole-heartedly. PR should be no different. Ensuring you choose an agency that is transparent, honest and open is half the battle.
Despite having the endorsement of some of the largest brands in the world, PR is still an unknown for some. In the most part, business owners know that they need it, but they can’t always see the true value.
This leaves PR as a forgotten relative. It becomes a ‘nice to have’ rather than the business-critical specialism it is.
In order to get best value from PR you need to provide a detailed brief. This gives clarity to the agency and gives you the chance to think carefully about the objectives you would like to achieve. These can then become KPIs to measure against.
Being honest about budgets
Providing a budget is really important.
Some people worry that providing a budget means an agency will charge that fee. Perhaps that will be the case, but they will also provide a rationale for the cost. It will allow them to provide realistic recommendations to meet with objectives.
Having no indication of the investment a business is willing to make just wastes time. It leaves an agency second guessing and that rarely works out well. It may mean the costs are too high or that the ideas are too safe. Either way, if a budget is given then everyone knows what they are working with.
We’ve always been very honest with our clients. We go above and beyond, treating our clients’ money as if it was our own. This is a value that has become reflective of Open Comms and synonymous with our approach.
This is one of the main reasons our clients’ work with us for years. They know what to expect and that they never need to challenge our honesty and transparency.
It’s about the years and not the hours
Going back to the main point. When working with an agency it really is about the years and not the hours. The hours are what you pay for. But the experience of a team is where the value lies.
At Open Comms we have a team of experts that have worked with some of the largest brands in the country. We have earnt our stripes and we love what we do. The assumption that PR is easy and that anyone can do it is misguided. The reality is very different.
It may be right that anyone can put pen to paper, however that isn’t PR. The education, training, skills, tactics and constantly evolving landscape means PR professionals are just that. Professionals. They have worked hard and have invested in their careers to be the best they can be.
Trust is integral to success
When you rely on an agency, you are trusting them with your brand. That’s a big commitment. We don’t take it lightly and that is one of the reasons our job is so exciting. Thankfully our clients have very similar traits. They trust us and believe in what we do.
This means we can work as an extension of their teams and to give them advice. Real advice. Honest advice. Uncomfortable advice. Not what they want to hear, but the right advice based on our experience and knowledge.
PR isn’t just about writing press releases or posting compelling content. It is about reputation and managing a brand. It is about avoiding crisis. It is about navigating through hard times and celebrating good.
The beauty of PR is that it doesn’t stand still. There is no one size fits all. Every single client we work with has different objectives. They are specific to their business and require a range of tactics. This keeps us on our toes and is just one of the many reasons we do what we do.
What to consider when choosing an agency
It’s really quite simple.
- The first thing to think about when choosing an agency is what you want to achieve. Create a clear brief that shares your objectives and budget.
- Next, find an agency that you feel would be a good fit with your business. PR is very much about relationships. You will be sharing information that is sensitive and confidential so you must have an affinity with the people you are working with.
- It’s not about them and us. It’s about working as a team to deliver results that meet with the objectives. Treating your agency as you would you colleagues will allow you to get the best from them.
- Remember, you are paying for experience. It’s about the years not the hours. Trust your agency to deliver. If you have any doubt, it’s probably time to review the suppliers you are working with.
Getting the balance
The balance between budget and return can be tricky but it’s not impossible. Be honest, be open and set expectations from the outset.
Once these are in place you will start to see the value of PR. When you are celebrating results, you will realise PR really is an investment and not a cost.