How to Create Winning Communication Strategies to get the Best Results from your PR Firm

You have an amazing product or brand,and you have gotten some initial PR for the brand and you have taken it as far as you can on your own. You have a PR budget, and you are finally going to let someone else take the reins: you are going to hire a PR firm. Congratulations!This can be a very exciting time, and it should remain that way for the duration of your experience as a client with any PR firm. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case for a lot of clients that seek and enter into a PR relationship.  Good PR takes time. It takes time to lay the foundation, to build the brand for the client, to make connections and build relationships.

How does a client know what the PR firm is doing behind the scenes if they don’t see immediate results? If you don’t know what they are working on, you probably haven’t established a good way to communicate with each other as a team.   In my experience over the last ten years in PR, communication and relationship building is everything in this business.

Bar none, when our firm takes on a new client who has left a PR firm, one of thebiggest complaints is that the client didn’t feel like they mattered to their previous firm. The firm was big, they felt like they got lost in the shuffle, and there was no communication. There were no bi-weekly calls, which effectively gave them no insight as to what progress was being made for the client.  Understandably, this created frustration for the client. Eventually, their frustration caused them to ultimately leave the firm.

When they come to our firm, they get open communication. We find the best methods that suit their team, so we can work fluidly for them. Some teams like email, others hate it, some like an update sheet – others prefer a phone call with you going through that sheet.  You get the idea. We explain to our clients how we work and what they can expect from our team.  We talk about how long they can realistically expect to wait before they get the big bookings.  We realistically talk about how long it takes to build credibility in the media world. We have set bi-weekly calls with clients to be able to share with them what we have done that week to get them seen, and what we are planning for the upcoming week. If they have any concerns, this is also an opportunity for them to voice those, and for us to address them. If they have any ideas or updates on their product, they can also share that on these calls as well. Additionally, we keep an open Google document that we update daily so that our clients can see in real time what we are working on.

Our job as their PR team is not simply to communicate openly and frequently with them, but it’s also to communicate the way that they prefer to be communicated with. So it’s important for you, as a client, to know what kind of communicator you are. Besides just the phone and emails, are you more visual or literal? How do you use communication as a tool in your life? According to this article from LifeHack, there are six main types of communicators:

1. Reflective – you use communication to bond with others.
2. Magistrate – you analyze, and are very direct and persuasive.
3. Noble – you are a practical type of communicator. You are focused and direct.
4. Candidate – you are diplomatic and easy to talk to.
5. Socratic – you are very detailed and are a good problem solver.
6. Senator – you are a strategist. You use communication to move your goals forward.

What type of communicator are you and what does this say about you or your team? Recently, we had an account that we realized was terrible at communicating, period.  And we couldn’t figure out just what type of communication really worked for their team.  We tried setting up standing calls, we emailed, we picked up the phone to try and get someone – anyone on the line…Well, as the Universe would have it – it delivered a big hit for a major morning show.  We let them know we needed an answer within 24 hours.  Again, we called, we emailed…  Two weeks went by and then – they emailed us to let us know that they had everything in place for the segment!  Guess what?  The big morning show opportunity came and went. Had the client just picked up the phone and let us know that they didn’t have the expert for the host and the location we could have communicated to our contact at the morning show as to not ruin the relationship we had worked so hard to build for them.  And just maybe we could have created another date or something for them down the line.

One of our biggest accounts has been one of the best working and communication experiences that we have had in the duration our firm has been a firm.  I personally feel that it’s partly due to their lifestyle (seeing that the company is in Hawaii) and the way their team communicates and vise versa. Always on time for our calls, responds to emails immediately, answers the phone with a smile, active listeners, they help get us things fast like content when we need it on the fly, brainstorm with us when we get a bite from media, discuss things that worked and didn’t, they get personal, they are open to feedback, they are specific, they ask for clarification when necessary, they love our ideas and we could go on and on. Folks, we have found a communication gem. Not to mention a stellar team all around from marketing to sales to production.

Whatever the case, it’s important for both PR firms and their clients to know their own communication styles so as to keep the relationship a working one, and so that the client never feels lost in the shuffle or second to a bigger paying account. When a client spends budgeted money with a PR firm, it is our job to help them reach all of their media goals and dreams.  Remember that a PR Firm can’t do that if your team can’t communicate and work together to find the best methods of communication.

So, if you’ve been working with a PR firm and not getting the results you want, the only question left to ask is this: Could your communication use a tune up?  We’d love to hear all about your communication strategies for your team.  Tell us what’s working for you!