But nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to your PR agency – not only are they the guardians of your message, they are the messenger, and they definitely need shooting if they get it wrong!
But, far too often, PR agencies either forget (I’m being generous here), or don’t really spend enough time working out, who is really responsible for how your message is conveyed and how it might be received.
And in a world where the ‘media’ encompasses everything from snail-mail through to the ever-streaming instant twitter feed, having your message told in the right way and by the right team is of titanic importance.
Iceberg! Right ahead…
The temptation for communications people to get into ‘broadcast’ mode is just too great. With so many avenues for your message and an increasing need to be seen to be communicating ever faster along with everybody else, the media sea has become littered with icebergs. And just like everybody remembers that one ship that hit an iceberg, Google has an annoying habit of total-recall when it comes to that particular bit of news you’d rather everybody forgot.
Gone are the days of formulating your messaging around a new product or offering and that would be it done for the next year. Gone are the days when you settle on a set of sales messages and then keep them in a drawer to dust off at the next annual marketing meeting for update. Whilst you sleep, others in your market are tuning and tweaking their messages on an intra-day basis.
PR? Social? Marcomms? It doesn’t matter what form it takes – just do it together; do it frequently; and agree with your PR agency what messages are going to work through the different channels.
Whose responsibility is it anyway?
You have a day job don’t you? And a sales & marketing target to hit? How are you going to find time to manage your way through the latest glacier-field? This is where your Standard Bearer – your PR agency – needs to be up close and personal with you and your team taking responsibility for the message generation and the process of conveying the message itself. And they need to be willing to stand up and be counted if it all goes wrong and not running for the life-rafts.
It takes a particular type of campaign management and a certain breed of PR professional to be able to craft messages on the fly; spot the icebergs; and get that message out there on time and in real time.
Sound simple? It’s not.
Orchestrating and managing an evolving offering in a complex and changing marketplace whilst marshaling all of your key assets in order to get the message out consistently to the right audience at exactly the point they are listening, is a skill not possessed by many. Most PR agencies will shy away from the task. Instead they resort to sending our press releases and tweeting – not really very inspirational is it.
What you need is a PR agency willing to get under your skin and think like you do and then be able to deliver as they continuously manage that message into your market. They need to be a collection of slightly OCD wordsmiths who can conjure up a message on the fly that moves your story forward and dovetails into your overall communication strategy – and they need to be able to do it in real-time.
There is an increasing amount at stake here – the promotion of your brand and the defense of your position in a frenetic multi-channel environment is key. Your PR agency is your standard bearer – choose wisely.
Ashley Carr, MD, Neo PR
Image: PR on newspaper via Shutterstock