Some companies handle all PR tasks in-house. This can work well when the individual has sufficient training and is given enough time to develop and implement a campaign. In many cases, however, an outside PR firm is selected to work closely with the company. A close relationship can — and should — develop between company and agency. Here’s how:

  • Once you’ve selected the right agency, don’t think your work is done. It’s just starting. To receive the results you need, your agency needs to learn as much as it can about you — and your competitors. Because your technology is new, oftentimes the primary source of information is you — or someone else at your company. Literature may be non-existent, Internet research may be sparse. One-on-one interviews may be time-consuming initially, but well worth the time expenditure in the end.

  • Remember that the agency is on YOUR team. Keep them informed. Provide information BEFORE it happens, not after. Strategic positioning can occur only when the company’s strategies are known. For example, if your attorneys have warned about an upcoming quiet period, tell the agency right away. The agency can shift to non-media activities until things return to normal and won’t run the risk of upsetting you, the legal department or the media.

  • Take your agency’s advice seriously. You understand your technology, they understand PR and marketing. Trust the agency’s sense of what is "newsworthy." If they raise a red flag, take notice.

  • Don’t ask your agency to do things that will make them look unprofessional — this affects their reputation and yours. High on the list of unprofessional things asked by clients is the writing and dissemination of non-news press releases. Too frequent releases about too-weak topics can make some shareholders happy — but only for a while. Meanwhile, this approach annoys the media and damages your reputation.

  • Your agency needs "ammunition" to make things happen. When reporters want an interview, make yourself available. At short notice, at odd times. If news is going out, make sure someone can talk to the press the same day.

  • Be straight with your agency. If they make a mistake, let them know it. If they hit a "home run," let them know it. Feedback is essential, good and bad.

  • Designate a "point person" inside the company to work with the agency. In entrepreneurial startups, it may be the CEO. In more established companies, it's likely to be the VP Marketing. Other likely candidates are the Marketing Director or Manager, Product Manager, President, COO and CFO when financial news is paramount.

  • Always inform your agency of upcoming trade shows, conferences and other travel to major media markets. You never know if there will be press relevant to your company attending the show or beat reporters in that city who could interview you.

  • There are many ways to approach the media with a story. Allow your agency to function as a "surrogate reporter" to ferret out interesting story ideas, particularly related to management innovation. Try to become aware of story angles that could interest the media and point these out to the agency for their evaluation and action, if appropriate.

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