Regular monitoring and some motivation goes a long way in extracting the best output from your PR consultancy. Here’s how to outperform your own PR targets and get the best out of your consultancy – no matter how big or small.
- Set realistic targets – Even before hiring a consultant or sending out a request for proposal, it’s important to ascertain the company’s PR objectives. It’s ideal to set challenging yet achievable and practical PR targets to help the consultancy not just reach numbers but ensure quality output.
- Select the right team to handle your account – Let’s accept the blatant truth – not every employee working for a highly reputed consultancy is as skilled and as competent as he must. Hence, it’s important to screen every person who is going to be directly handling your account. Choose the best as part of the core team, basis their understanding of your business, work experience and aptitude.
- Monitor regularly – Maintain a work log and update it regularly. Set both long term as well as short term targets. It’s ideal to break down long term targets into short term deliverables. Hence, not just quarterly or monthly reviews, it’s important to do weekly reviews. Keep carrying forward tasks undone. Make sure that no idea gets pushed on the backburner because they remain untouched or un-discussed for two to three weeks. Keep a close tab on tasks undone and set timelines for every idea. Every plan, howsoever small, should be close-ended and have a certain deadline. And until it’s completed, keep carrying it forward to the next phase’s PR plan.
- Keep them informed – While a company keeps the consultancy looped in on major announcements like funding, mergers and event associations, it often misses out on everyday announcements that help building brand reputation, like new recruitments and new employee-friendly HR policies. In many new ventures, ever-changing marketing calendars or interesting public announcements don’t make way into a press announcement because of inconsistent or incomplete communication with the consultancy.
- Stay involved – A PR consultancy only does its job well when the brand’s communications department does its job well. Hiring a consultancy doesn’t mean that PR targets would necessarily be met. It is a proactive communications team that works closely with key internal stakeholders, regularly brainstorms with different departmental heads, keeps a close watch on competition, and constantly strategizes with the PR team that plays a pivotal role in meeting PR targets. No matter how good a consultancy, it always takes an upbeat and arduous communications team to get the best output from it.
- Let the consultancy experiment – A brand’s communication and media strategy keeps evolving continually, and it should. Hits and misses, are hence, an intrinsic part of helping a communications strategy evolve. While the consultancy should be kept accountable for every move, they should be given a free hand to try a new approach to engage media. So long as a suggested story or campaign idea doesn’t impose a possible threat to the company’s image or goes against brand philosophy, there is no harm in encouraging the PR team to ideate new ways that would arouse media interest in the company. More than anything else, this gradually makes the PR team feel like an integral part of the brand and its evolving communications strategy.
- Don’t discourage – It’s important to closely analyse consultancy performance regularly, and pinpoint wherever the consultancy goes awry or fails to deliver. However, the key lies in maintaining a fine balance between criticizing and appreciating. The idea, after all, is to correct them and not de-motivate them. So, pat their back each time the team does a commendable job.