Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The junk man talks about PR

Brian Scudamore of 1-800-GOT-JUNK writes an interesting byline in Profit magazine’s March issue. He basically thinks most if not all PR agencies are caca ‘cause he was able to pick up the phone and make his own headlines. He said he hired and fired three PR firms because in his words his “staff could identify and exploit” opportunities better than an outsourced PR firm. Well, good for you Mr. Scudamore. So glad you like calling media and pitching your own story.

But the fact is that most companies don’t know how to do it, do it well, or even know where to start. That’s precisely, why PR firms are flourishing in Toronto and communications in general is a sought after service. And while some companies hire internal PR staffers, many of them are so busy posturing, playing office politics or taking on other responsibilities that they have no time to perform the media relations function they were hired to do.

So in the beginning you got lucky. You made a few calls and sold your story. Big deal. Even the blind squirrel finds an occasional nut! But what happens when your story starts to be “more of the same” and the competition starts eating away at your market share? What if you’re not the “it” kid on the block anymore? That’s when you need a sound PR strategy and creative execution to sustain your value proposition. That’s where a high caliber PR firm comes into play. Besides, why did you buy the dog if you were going to do all the barking?

PR agencies thrive and deliver stellar results on a daily basis, but only with great client relationships. My favourite saying is: “Clients get the work they deserve.” So perhaps, Mr. Scudamore, you need to look inwards to gauge whether you created a positive working relationship with your agencies so the ground was fertile to deliver results.

Here are five easy ways to create that kind of environment with your outside PR help:

· Treat your PR agency as a “partner.” Don’t call them a supplier or an outsourced service provider. We’re not the copier repair people. We take a vested interest in your business. As you grow, we grow.

· Invite your agency reps to sales meetings, company off-sites, trade shows and parties. Why? Because we want to get into the skin of a client and glean tacit knowledge to better serve your business. We want to feel part of your team.

· Give your agency specific milestones, metrics and deliverables each month or quarter. Everyone has to know what the outcomes should be and expectations should be set out at the beginning of the plan.

· Have a decent budget for your agency to work with. If the budget is really tight, you won’t get the results. Period. Clients who are cheap get cheap results – or none at all.

· Say “thanks” and “good job” to your agency team every once in a while. That means a heck of a lot to the poor souls who are on the phone pitching the virtues of your business each and every day. A little thanks goes a long way to motivating frontline agency staffers.

So there you have it, Mr. Scudamore. A lesson for you, too.

Oh and by the way, if you don’t like my blog, you can always file it under “junk.”


ZoeyBella said...

It always makes me laugh when I hear people say they don't believe in PR or that they don't need it. It just goes to show that some people are really clueless when it comes to proper business practices.

Sure, some folks can get lucky along the way, but having a PR company working with you is smart business. ;)

Great Events said...

Your suggestions about how you like to be treated as a partner by your clients was excellent.

The successfull PR firms we work with recognize and practice this strategy when they work with our production company.

Our clients recognize that when they share their ojectives with us, we are able to provide our expertise to create a winning event.

PR firms that treat their production service provider as just the guys providing the "gear" are missing an opportunity.