Robin Campbell-Burt – Director at Spreckley
Clients look for many things in a public relations consultancy before choosing whom to work with, and indeed some clients are their own worst enemy when selecting the right partner that can deliver results. As examples, an obsessional focus on costs can push a prospective agency to promise the earth for the smallest fee, virtually guaranteeing disappointment. Alternatively, demanding that everyone on the account team has 20 plus years experience means that you will pay through the nose to get more grey hairs than you need for an effective PR campaign. Balance must be a key theme when weighing up the best approach and this is a theme I shall return to in future blog posts.
However, the one thing that clients should always obsess over is knowledge. There are many agencies out there with entire factories of recent university graduates drafting news releases or tweets who have no idea about what they are writing. Quantity overrides quality on a massive scale, with the few experienced directors at the top too thinly spread to make an effective difference on a campaign.
Understanding the industry, the key trends in the market, the challenges that keep CEOs awake at night and what topics are at the peak of interest with target audiences in any campaign – this is all knowledge that the pitching PR consultancy should know about and speak confidently of. Knowledge and understanding drives creativity in the development of engaging content for target audiences. It also creates a more efficient use of time. A single, highly creative idea will go further than a dozen boring ones so the ratio between audience impact and hours spent is so much better when PR consultancies understand what they are talking about.
So, make sure you test the knowledge and understanding of any PR consultancy that pitches for your business. Don’t just take the few slides they show you at the start for granted. Challenge them, dig underneath what they are saying and get them talking to make sure that they really understand you and your business. I would say this is the most fundamental thing you should do to sort the wheat from the chaff.
If you fail to do this properly then it will be your fault when your PR consultancy lets you down.