Whether you’re about to embark on a relationship with a PR agency or you’re already in one, we’ve compiled the below list of topics that often get overlooked, but can really help you understand your agency. We suggest discussing these with your agency to ensure that there are no misunderstandings throughout your relationship.
What are you pitching and what if it doesn’t work?
In PR, we rely not only on press releases, which are approved by clients, but even more importantly, on pitches. These are the emails that the releases are attached to. It’s also the angle we’ll use to “sell” your story to the media. As a client you typically don’t see these because there are so many of them – targeted directly to each publications. Sometimes they don’t work and the team has to reconsider the pitch. Asking your team for their process and being involved in the pitch angles can greatly improve the volume of results. No one knows your business like you do, so help your PR team figure out the best way to talk about it. That said, don’t ask to see every one of them. You must trust that your team knows what they’re doing!
How much time do you have allocated to me?
When you signed on with your agency, you likely signed on for a certain retainer amount each month, but did you discuss how many hours that equates to? Some agencies charge a blended rate, meaning you pay the same for the CEO’s time as you do for the intern’s. Others have different rates per employee. You should not need to be bothered by how your agency breaks up the work, but you should have an understanding for about how many hours per month your budget equates to. Chances are if it feels low to you, it likely feels low to the team too!
Am I getting you what you need?
PR is heavily reliant on information and resources from the client. Think of PR as your gateway to the media placements. We can make introductions, but there is very little that a PR team can do without a client with dedicated time to get the team what it needs: Images, interviews, story angles, background information, etc.
What additional costs am I incurring/might I incur?
PR costs can be as simple as just paying for one’s time, but if you get the whole package, there are a lot of additional costs you may incur. Consider the following and ask your team if you may run into any of these so that you can plan accordingly:
- Media database charge
- Online press release distribution (these can be hefty charges!)
- Shipping of samples to media
- Cost of time and transportation to get to meetings at your office. If your team is charging for that, it may make more sense to go to them!
- Media meeting costs (lunch, coffee and transportation so that your team can schmooze)
Are your interns working on my business?
If you’re working with an agency, chances are the answer to this is yes, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. PR requires a lot of small tasks in order to accomplish one great thing. Take for example that disc of 500 images of your restaurant that you passed to your agency. Do you want your most experienced publicist to sift through them for the best three to send to media? That’s great intern work. Even media lists can be started by interns. It’s a great way for them to learn the landscape of the media and for your publicist to put her efforts into crafting the right pitch and having just the right conversation with that media contact.
What conversations have you found helpful for your agency relationship?