Honestly, I don’t have even a single day experience of working in a PR consultancy so I shall base my part two of the hypothesis on my imagination and dialogues I have had with some of consultancy heads during the course of my professional journey. For me, inputs from consultancies during strategy and planning phases have always increased the quality of output, especially due to their expertise on the external climate. Some of our most effective PR campaigns have been an outcome of utilising combined skills, knowledge and unique specialisms that cut across our in-house and PR agency teams. Compelling story ideas can come out only if the relation is symbiotic and well embedded. In this section, let me articulate what we as clients must ensure to get the maximum value out of the partnership in an energising manner.
- Define and articulate the goals and objectives – It is imperative to clearly define goals and objectives at the outset. Be it qualitative or quantitative, measures need to be agreed upon and owned jointly. This alignment is a must to avoid disagreements later.
- Be transparent – Unless your consultancy is aware of your business, the financials, strategic business plans, the spokespersons and the vulnerabilities, how can they help build an effective PR plan? Share information on developments in good time so that right PR opportunities are identified proactively.
- Be one team – Not just on paper but at a feeling level. Stop treating the consultancy folks as “vendors” and see the ownership and inspiration to put forward their best foot for any media blitz soar. I have seen this happen and believe me, it’s that euphoric moment when you say – bring it on! Deadlines stop mattering, idea’s flow and the fear of failure vanishes resulting in amazing PR outcomes.
- Be responsive – More so towards media opportunities with short notice (as always!). Being accessible for approvals saves a lot of time.
- Not just ‘”Arms and Legs” – Worst is to treat your consultancy partners as extended arms and legs. I truly believe that if you treat them like arms and legs, they might not get their hearts and brains on the account. What a waste!
- Critique rather than criticise – Very critical to have a robust feedback process in place so that the goals are on track. Have a rewards and recognition system for achievements and a developmental dialogue for misses. Agreeing on the objectives and measures and then jointly ensuring the achievement is the key.
- Collaborate, communicate, listen and build relations – Talk, it’s our business. Show respect and empathy. Know your team beyond the tactical and operational reviews. See their other side. Most of the times we fight for the same cause and listening can resolve it. I have learnt so much just by listening to my servicing folks. It’s great to hear the language of collaboration and ownership from your extended team!
- Teams that celebrate together, win awards – Believe me, it is fun and provides opportunities to informally vent out any pent up niggles!
Our profession is an ever evolving one that has probably not got the due it truly deserves. The times are great, there are technologies that support us, and the need for PR has been realised by more and more organisations. It is now up to us to raise the bar of our deliverables and results.
One of the ways it’s possible is through this “Chemistry”, hai Na!