The constant pressure of social media and the digital age has forced businesses to evaluate the way their brands are perceived.
With so much information now available online, consumers today are better informed than ever before, which means that even a small misstep can lead to a PR disaster.
You want to be sure that you remain on top of things, right?
If you’re thinking about investing in your business’s public image, you’ll need to know what a PR agency does.
Here’s your chance to find out everything you’ve ever wanted to know.
What does a PR agency do?
The first step to answering this question is to understand what PR really is. It’s a term that raises many questions and is often used interchangeably with marketing. But is this correct?
What are public relations?
Thankfully, we’ve already answered this question in this helpful blog post ➡️ PR vs Marketing: 5 Main Differences Explained (And Compared). It’s full of valuable information to help you better understand the difference.
For now, to keep it short, we’ll define PR in a few words.
Public relations (PR) aims to build and maintain positive relations between a company and its stakeholders.
PR has a direct impact on a brand’s image and reputation – and aims to create a positive perception of the brand in the market. On top of this, it’s focused on strategic, long-term activities.
So now, as we hope it’s crystal clear what PR is, it’s time to answer the most crucial question… What does a PR agency actually do?
It really does depend.
We know, nobody likes such a vague answer, but the truth is, what a PR agency delivers to their clients depends on the brief and things that are most important to them. In a nutshell, it all depends on the client’s end goal. A company might want to use PR to gain visibility, improve or defend its reputation, or build brand awareness.
Professional agencies offer clients a wide range of public relations services. Through various activities (e.g., the organization of special events and conferences, cooperation with journalists and opinion leaders, etc), they can effectively reach all key audiences, including customers, business partners, or employees.
Sometimes, a PR agency specializes only in one particular PR activity.
Types of PR agencies
- Product PR: Agency focuses its activities on enhancing the image of existing products or services and promoting new ones.
- Corporate PR: A PR agency aims to create an organization’s image so that it is credible and perceived positively by the public.
- Crisis PR: PR agency carries out a range of activities in the event of challenging situations.
- Public affairs PR: The primary activities of this type of agency are related to activities between the enterprise and other entities, such as NGOs, local authorities, and communities.
Benefits of working with a PR agency
So, this raises another question. Why do companies so often decide to start cooperating with a PR agency?
Let’s take a look at the key advantages of such a collaboration.
1) Access to expertise
You have a chance to cooperate with qualified staff who have deep experience in the field. A professional PR agency selects the right people for specific projects, to be carried out in the most effective and satisfactory way for the client. Due to this, your brand will gain better results.
2) An increase in productivity
A PR agency can free up a lot of time for you and your employees, ensuring that you have time to focus on other activities.
3) Makes it easier to achieve the goals
When you work with a PR agency specializing in a specific service, you will achieve your goal and financial results faster, allowing you to gain an edge in the market sooner.
4) Gives the big picture
PR agencies that are not part of your in-house team can give you unbiased opinions about new products, and events you are planning. You will get a complete picture of your plans by having them look at your business from the outside.
The scope of work of a PR agency
So far, it’s clear that hiring a PR agency has many advantages and can help your business grow. But, how does it really look in practice?
Every decision that employees of a PR agency make can have a lasting impact on the brand’s image. This means that the workers within these agencies are under constant pressure, and their schedules are extremely busy but they still constantly make sure that your brand gets the attention it deserves.
What are the primary duties of these employees?
A significant service within public relations agencies is brand reputation management. This aspect takes care of how a company is perceived by different stakeholder groups, e.g., investors, customers, employees.
A brand reputation management strategy might include communication channels such as email newsletters, blog content, responding to reviews, and engaging with the audience.
Today, many brands use social media to increase their reputation, so PR agencies also direct their efforts there.
For example, Tesco has shown its support on Twitter for local businesses facing huge losses due to the lockdown. The brand received an overwhelmingly positive response from users and showed that they care. Such results from campaigns result from the work of PR managers who care about the positive reputation of a brand.
Taking care of media relations
An essential part of the PR agency’s work is taking care of mutually beneficial relationships between journalists and public relations professionals. The PR manager relies on journalists to report the information, and journalists rely on PR managers to provide it.
Details matter in such a relationship. Before sending a press release to a publication, PR professionals need to do some research – know the journalists, see where the story could fit, and focus on those who really matter to their client’s brand.
PR agencies achieve media coverage by writing pitches to journalists and gaining mentions in industry news. Media coverage helps establish the business as credible and the activities noteworthy, enabling the message to be heard by a broader audience.
An advertisement won’t improve the brand reputation as much as being mentioned in a respected media outlet that targets the brand’s ideal customers.
💡 Also read: How to Efficiently Track Mentions Online
Dealing with crises
Managing crises is a vital tactic for every business. However, it’s a challenging part of a PR agencies’ work because they always have to be prepared for the unpredictable.
Having a PR agency on your side when something unexpected happens can help you avoid making things worse. Taking their advice, you can prepare an action plan and make moves that are thoughtful and appropriate to the situation.
You can’t make critical decisions via guesswork; a PR agency makes sure that your brand’s image will not suffer, and that you’ll emerge from any crisis unscathed.
Creating and distributing press releases
If you wish to announce a new product or campaign, you should send a press release to gain media attention. But who’s going to write it? Leave it in the hands of the experts; a PR agency can handle this.
Speaking at industry events or conferences may be a good way to enhance your brand’s image. Under one condition – if what you’re going to say is well written.
Any words spoken on behalf of your company represent your brand.
Therefore, a presentation should be in line with your company’s image, which is why if you, or someone else from your company, has to give a speech you should hire a PR agency to help out. This can range from just proofreading and advising, all the way up to preparing a strategic and detailed presentation.
Monitoring and conducting market research
PR agencies can also be responsible for conducting market research. Using feedback surveys or focus groups can help them, and then you, get to know more about the audience and target messages more accurately. One of the ways this can be done is by using a media monitoring tool, an essential part of a PR agency toolkit.
They might also have some new approaches and ideas that show you a fresh perspective. By engaging a PR agency in this area, you can learn something new about your prospects that may help you improve your business in other areas as well.
Event planning is another responsibility of a PR agency. They usually provide event organization services from beginning to end. For example, they can look for sponsors, invite guests, book speakers, and take care of the venue and catering.
As event planners who have experience, they will pay attention to details that you have the possibility to miss especially if you have hundreds of other factors on your mind. This raises the odds of a successful event and in turn, a higher likelihood of satisfied participants.
Besides maintaining and nurturing your existing connections, as a business it’s essential that you make new ones as well, to grow your network. A PR agency can help with that.
Through digital PR services, technical link-building tactics, or collaborations with industry influencers, they help make content more visible. Combined with the other PR activities we mentioned, this can increase brand awareness and gain extra exposure for your business.
How to find a PR agency tailored to your needs?
Finding a PR agency that will perfectly complement your business is not easy. So how do you know how to find the one? There are some factors that indicate that a certain PR agency is worth considering.
Experienced in your industry
The key to finding the right PR firm is finding one that specializes in your industry. For example, hiring an entertainment-focused PR firm would not be the best choice if you are a tech startup looking to get into business.
An experienced PR agency in your industry has the expertise and know-how required in your field and area, and the contacts necessary to ensure you succeed in all aspects of PR.
Regardless of the nature of the transaction, customers should be constantly aware of what they are getting for their money. In this case, it is the same for you. If a PR agency is not transparent when it comes to money, or refuses to give you a clear offer, it should be a red flag for you. Set your expectations clearly, and don’t accept conditions that you’re not comfortable with.
You should expect positive results as quickly as possible. Ensure that the PR agency you choose is oriented toward any agreed goals and begins delivering in a matter of weeks, not months.
The PR agency works for you, not the other way around. Remember that they should listen to you carefully. But keep in mind that they have the knowledge you might not have. Take their advice. Together you’ll be able to accomplish more.
A PR agency alternative
It is evident that a PR agency can help your business; increase brand awareness, reputation, handle many activities and lighten your employees’ load. Nevertheless, it’s not a cheap affair, and PR spending is often a large part of the company’s budget.
If you worry that you cannot afford it, maybe Mediatoolkit will be a viable alternative? With this tool, you can monitor what people are saying about your business and use that information to manage your PR more effectively. It’s free to try – find out more here.