Is it time for a change of PR agency?

Good PR is all about having a great nose for a story and communicating that story with the right messages to the right audiences in a creative and compelling way.

It’s also about chemistry; many a decision about hiring – or firing – a PR agency has been based on how well the account team and the client click.

[caption id="attachment_998" align="alignnone" width="300"]mouldy pr agency Is your PR agency going mouldy?[/caption]

In the world of commercial realities, however, even the longest established of relationships between a PR professional and a client must never be taken for granted, as former Airbus Group PR agency, Instinctif, has been reminded this week.

The agency’s managing partner had worked on the Airbus PR account for 20 years but, while Instinctif was shortlisted following a competitive pitch, the strength of that relationship was not sufficient to keep the brief.

The hard truth is that trust and rapport may be essential ingredients for successful PR delivery, but they must be supported throughout the relationship by the kind of enthusiasm and hunger for achieving results that the PR team had on day one.

It is not unusual for PR consultants to develop friendships with clients because the most productive partnerships work on the PR’s intuitive understanding of the client’s goals and challenges. However, it’s vital for any PR to remember that even the closest client/agency relationships are founded on a commercial transaction because the client is buying their ideas, their enthusiasm and their proactive determination to generate outcomes aligned to tangible business objectives; they are not buying personalities.

For the managing partner of Instinctif, as upsetting as it must be to lose an account after 20 years’ service, keeping a client/agency relationship for that long is quite an achievement. Clare PR has had many such long-standing client relationships over the years, including those that have lasted for 20+ years, those that have seen clients come back after an absence and those that have involved individual marketing managers moving us across with them when they changed jobs.

So, what’s the secret of those enduring relationships? Firstly, we get to know our clients and their company so that we can provide a level of service that’s right for them and meets their commercials goals and brand strategy. We also make sure that we define our understanding in a service level agreement and clear KPIs so that the client knows what to expect and we know what we need to achieve.

Secondly, we don’t just set out to meet those expectations: we set out to exceed them! No matter how skilled and experienced a PR team might be, without unerring enthusiasm and a passion for achieving results, there is limited potential for sustained success.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we don’t delegate responsibility for achieving results outside the client relationship. The team at the pitch and in the PR update meeting is the same team that’s ringing the media, writing the stories and engaging audiences online.
Any company that cannot be confident that its PR team is as fully committed to driving results after several years as they were in week one should, indeed, be asking whether it’s time for a change.

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