UK: SME/Professional Counsel - Public Relations - Use your agency to the full.

UK: SME/Professional Counsel - Public Relations - Use your agency to the full. - Five points to ensure that you get the best return for your outlay.

by Colette Hill, managing director of Colette Hill Associates 0171622 8252.
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Five points to ensure that you get the best return for your outlay.

Investing in public relations can feel like a very brave step but how do you get the best return on the outlay? Above all, you must acknowledge the importance of your own contribution to the programme of activities.

You will have to make yourself available to brief your consultants fully, to talk to the media, to sign off press releases, to direct, correct or praise the team that is working on your behalf. Assume that for every hour of consultant time you buy, you will need to invest an hour of your own. Bear this in mind when planning your programme. You should also:

- Treat your advisers as if they were part of your in-house team - trust them and involve them fully in your plans. This will motivate them and enable them to be more effective.

- Agree clear targets at the outset. Your initial brief should cover business objectives, company style or mission, marketing plan, input required from the PR company, target audiences and budget guidelines.

- Assume that extra work briefed subsequently will incur additional fees.

- Plan a full induction when you appoint your consultants and expect to run updates at least annually to keep them abreast of developments. This might include one-on-one interviews with key personnel, a run-through of your own customer presentation, a tour of your site and a review of documentation such as business plans and customer and competitor research.

- Assign a PR champion in-house to act as day-to-day contact to fix meetings, arrange photography, alert you and other colleagues about deadlines and track down information requested by journalists.

- Review regularly. You should meet your consultants monthly to run through activities in hand. At the end of each quarter, you should review the strategy in the light of the programme's effectiveness, changes within your company, your own industry sector or in the wider marketplace.

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