3 Nov 2015

What goes on behind closed doors?

Anouk Jacob – Associate Director at Spreckley

We PR agencies are usually known for just some of the tasks we do, such as content writing, storytelling and getting editorial coverage. Conversely, we are also often known for what we don’t do (as we have frequently tried explaining to our parents) “no, we don’t do advertising, we don’t come up with the catchy phrases that you hear, we don’t write the articles (well we do – when we’re writing opinion pieces, but that would be too complicated to explain).”

But what is often not known, is what we do behind the scenes.

We anticipate, analyse and interpret public opinion, attitudes, and issues that might impact (for better or for worse) the operations and plans of our clients. We counsel, research, evaluate, plan and implement. However, we are faced with multiple challenges, nuances and hurdles to jump on a daily basis.

For example, we often need to deal with internal politics within our client’s organisations. Whether they are the subsidiary of an American or Asian company and they want to do things “the British way”; or whether it is the Marketing Manager having a different vision of how things should be done compared to the CEO; or multiple sites having their own agenda and lacking consistency in their way of communicating – the PR agency often finds itself stuck in the middle playing the diplomatic listener and peace-keeper.

This is the nature of our role, and in order to continue fulfilling our mission and move forward despite internal politics, there are several rules to keep top of mind:

  • Respect the chain of command. However friendly you may be with your contact; that contact has a boss, and it’s that boss that probably pays your invoice, so don’t take sides and override the hierarchy!
  • Communicate in the same manner with everyone with the same level of information. If you don’t share appropriately, it will backfire
  • Know your data and facts – this can usually triumph over any political agenda
  • Understand the environment and questions you are being asked. Knowing where the questions are leading will allow you to anticipate and adjust accordingly
  • Find common ground with the different parties. Finding it will allow you to accomplish any possible future critical situations. This will earn you trust and respect because ultimately you are helping the situation – not creating one
  • Always look out for the best interests of the company

All of the above will allow you to be the peacemaker. It’s essential that the PR agency comes across as the one that finds the solutions, and focuses on making progress and getting results, which is ultimately what we were hired to do.