53% of tech comms professionals cite a greater need for strategic insight and market intelligence from PR agencies.
Does your PR agency often share intel on industry trends and macro/micro economic issues that that could affect your comms strategy? This might sound novel, but the truth is that your PR team are the eyes and ears to what’s developing outside of your business, with your competition, partners, and the industry at large. After all, they are the recipients of media alerts, tuned into live broadcast coverage, followers of twitter conversations and thereby well positioned to share this intel and provide strategic and tactical council. After all, a company’s PR program is not a 1-way street where spokespeople speak, and media listen regardless. It’s about providing opinion and commentary aligned to what the media currently care about and with 53% of tech comms professionals feeling that these skills set need more work, now is the time to act.
Here are some very simple solutions to ensure your PR program is not “plug and play”, running in isolation to the outside world, but instead vibrant, very relevant and strategically aligned to your business plan and goals.
Curious PR professionals
A rudimentary first step is to look at who is on your account team and make sure these people are curious, smart as well as vocal. You want them to be forthcoming with market knowledge and intel and to share it with the rest of your account team and with you in real time. It’s worth remembering here that you get what you pay for, so if for any absurd reason you are “paying by results” or implementing project-based PR, then you can’t necessarily expect this level of service. Retainer PR programs factor in time for your account team to be keeping a close eye on the news and considering how these changes impact your PR program. This is the high worth value of PR.
Highly Strategic PR Workshop
Any PR agency that gets started on your business right away to secure coverage will not be successful in the long term. Instead, it’s very important they invest time to discuss the macro and microenvironment and how these current and potential future issues could affect your business. For example, if your company trades in Russia and the Ukraine, then there are certain issues that need to be considered and points of view to be developed that might form part of the PR program. To disregard them could be very damaging and short sighted to the business. This exercise should be done at the start of a PR program during a PR workshop and repeated at least once or twice per year. It’s vital for the strategy to remain relevant and timely.
A methodology that works effectively is for your agency to share deep insights each week. This is their opportunity to put articles in front of you related to competitor or partner news, analyst POVs and statistics etc. But it’s not just about listing things to read, but instead sharing perspective of what can be done to perhaps hijack and lobby the news. In my opinion, this is essence of great PR and why PR retainers are justified. You are paying for high level thinking and counsel on how to be part of the media conversation and raise your profile and visibility to stakeholders. And please note, let’s not limit this to weekly insights – it needs to be real time too.
We need to expect more from our PR agency and encourage them to think deeper and provide their perspective of the industry and the position we need to take. After all, PR programs are meant to be fluid. The world changes every day and what we agreed last month for the PR plan might not be relevant today.