I’m not a lawyer, or a shopping centre owner, or an estate agent. I don’t manufacture printers or low carbon vehicles, and I’m not a small business owner.
Yet I have been involved in successful PR and marketing activity for all of these sectors.
Because the clients in question, and the people within their business, were engaged, focused, and had a clear view on what they wanted to achieve from their PR campaign.
On top of this, they wanted a PR agency who worked as an extension to their own team – they viewed us a consultant, trusted our opinion, and gave us what we needed to understand their business and get the best results.
There are many things that a PR agency or practitioner needs to do to make your campaign a success – but there are also things we need from you!
1). Your time
Perhaps the most important thing that we need from you, and one of the hardest for you to give. We understand that your time is precious – and PR and marketing is just one of the hats that you wear on a day-to-day basis. But regular and ongoing communication between client and agency is vital for success – we aren’t mind readers and we need you to tell us what’s happening within your business. The further in advance we know of events, appointments, news etc – the more mileage we can get out of them. We also need you to be available for quick approval and urgent press requests.
2). Your expertise and opinions
Just because we do the PR for a lion tamer, it doesn’t mean we know how to tame lions. We need you to tell us what the story is. What are your views, your opinions? What effect will this have on your industry? The longer we work with you the more of your expertise we glean, but you will always be the expert. Our job is to take your experience and knowledge and turn it into a newsworthy story that will capture the attention of journalists and audiences, and integrate it into an ongoing campaign.
3). Your honesty
We need you to be honest with us about everything; how do you like to work? Are we positioning your company how you want it to be positioned? Are the results what you expected? Let us know what you think and we can adapt as we go along. A successful relationship is two way though, and we will be honest with you too if we’re not getting what we need!
4). Your belief
We know what journalists want, and we know how people want to be communicated with. There may be times when you have a story you want to push, or an angle you’d like to exploit – which we don’t believe will work. We talk to journalists on a daily basis and know what they’re after, and we can talk from experience about what can and should be said. If we advise you that a change in approach is necessary, listen to our reasons and have trust in what we say.
5). Your patience
It takes time and consistent effort to get results and build a strong reputation for a brand (especially when it comes to social media, which is increasingly part of the PR mix). But it also takes time to build a relationship with you, and get to know your business and your way of working. Have patience and the results will be worth it in the end!
Last weekend saw Europe’s largest free ticketed music event take place – Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Carlisle. Alas, I wasn’t lucky enough to be there, but curiosity got the better of me and I couldn’t help but check out online some of Sunday’s headline performance from Lady Gaga.
She is one of the most outlandish mainstream performers the world has seen in a long time – yet the public love her.
Some clients can be afraid of anything which is too ‘out there’. But, whatever your opinion of her, perhaps Lady Gaga is proof that people are a lot more open than we think.
So, with that in mind, here are five things PR pros can learn from her:
1). Be inventive
Lady Gaga appeared on stage in a coffin, wearing a PVC cat suit and a plastic baby bump. Odd, yes. (Although perhaps not a patch on some of her other outfits – meat dress anyone?!). Her approach is certainly creative. And creativity and innovation is something which in PR we should have in abundance. We should be able to come up with inventive, innovative, yet viable, ideas for clients at the drop of a hat. Take the time to regularly brainstorm with your team – come up with ideas which aren’t restrained by budgets or client briefs. Even if you don’t use the ideas they are still useful for keeping that ‘creative on-switch’ working, as well as providing a bank of material when your campaign needs a vital dose of ‘oomph’.
2). Don’t go too far – unless you can handle the repercussions
Usually shrouded by glowing reviews, Lady Gaga’s ‘Alejandro’ video has caused outrage in some circles, with MTV asking ‘Has she gone too far?’ The controversial video features sexual and religious imagery which is a bit too much for some people’s taste. Although creativity is important – it is also important to remember that it’s subjective. Think about your audience – will they find it amusing, exciting or insulting?
3). Support what you believe in
Lady Gaga is mostly seen in the press for her weird and wacky dress sense, and for hit single after hit single – but she’s also been in and out of the papers for her charity work. Charity partnerships are a great way for any brand to raise awareness of itself, get in the public eye, and build compassion. Lady Gaga’s charity work includes quitting Facebook for the Keep a Child Alive charity, designing a charity bracelet for the Japanese earthquake appeal, and performing at a benefit concert for the Robin Hood Foundation.
4). Be current
Splashed across the press after her appearance last weekend was Lady Gaga’s homage to the royal couple, Kate and William. The singer dedicated a cover of Nat King Cole’s classic jazz tune, Orange Coloured Sky to the couple and admitted that she wished she’d been part of their big day. Linking into the news agenda and ‘piggy-backing’ onto the hype surrounding current affairs is a great way to gain more coverage for your clients, and something all good PR pros should be able to do.
5). Always exceed expectations
Lady Gaga was half an hour late to the stage – leaving many fans wondering where the loyalty was. Always strive your utmost to meet client expectations – and where possible exceed them. This should be across all aspects of your campaigns; great ideas and amazing content count for nothing if you’re always late or never keep promises.