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What Have You Done For Me Lately?

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Recently I spoke with several prospective clients about their Public Relations or marketing needs. They let me know that they already work with an agency.

I have to admit curiosity gets the better of me, so I set out to research their agency of record to try and determine what exactly they have accomplished for their client.  

Many times all I find is an old press release, an old brochure, or a very dated article - nothing current, or news worthy.

It's great that agencies and their clients can build solid partnerships - we do it all the time.

But at some point, as the business owner or manager responsible for the agency's performance, you should take some time to ask your PR or marketing agency - "WHAT have you done for me lately?"

Remember the reasons you hired them in the first place: to help you bring clarity to your business messages, to help you gain exposure against your competitors, to help you raise awareness in the community or press, and ultimately to help you generate sales and increase revenues.

Let's assume you have a strong working relationship with your agency. Yet consider these questions and benchmarks when rating your agency's performance.

When was the last time your agency came to you with a solid, creative idea that gave you that edge in the marketplace?

That idea made you feel that "wow" emotion all over again. An agency/client relationship is like a marriage, if the spark is gone and you're not feeling that magic anymore - it may mean that your agency has become too comfortable and complacent in their relationship with your business.

It's about the numbers

If you have worked with your agency for a number of years - this is plenty of time for you to make time to do some serious metrics and measurements. Yes, PR can be measured. Have your sales and lead generation increased year after year because of the exposure your PR agency has provided your company? Have new and unique visits (hits) to your Website increased? How about increased dramatically? Is the press calling you and do they know who you are or your business?

Conversely, it's not just about the ink (media coverage), yet it is 

When was the last time your company received meaningful media coverage or an interview that gave your company a much needed jump start? That last article that your agency wrote, did it get placed in a strategic publication for your business, and were your sales people able to use that article to bring in fresh leads? 

Are you getting good feedback from others on your agency's results?

When your CEO, co-workers, clients and even competitors tell you: "Hey I saw that article (or news story) on your company, great job." That is one measurement that is invaluable and speaks volumes about the effectiveness of your agency. Conversely if you get comments like: "Oh, we have a PR agency? What do they do?", that means your agency is not performing for your business.

Review time!

Your PR agency should be like your extended work family. First, you should enjoy working with them, especially if your'e going to work with them almost every day. And second, just like your employees, they should receive a serious review at least once a year - more if they are falling behind. During this review, keep all your options open, ask some tough questions and compare their answers with hard data. If they make the grade, this is great for your business - but if they continually fail, it may be time to take a very hard look at another agency that may offer new and creative solutions for your business.

I do admire businesses that have strong allegiances with their agency. Yet, as the person responsible for overseeing your agency's performance, it's important to continually monitor and grade your agency, keep them accountable and ask the hard questions. You are doing your business a disservice if you put your PR agency on auto-pilot and expect results - it's not fair to your business or the agency.

So at the next team meeting with your PR or marketing agency, ask them this question: "What have you done for my business lately?" And then simply listen.  

Image: Dulnan, "newspaper vs. iPhone", via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution

Posted by Eric Garza on 06/07 at 10:31 AM in Public Relations

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