I originally posted this on my friend’s blog, Tech for PR. I’m reposting an edited version (in italics) here to kick off this blog!
While working at Blanc & Otus, I was proud of how my team responded to clients and the quality of our communications. My team may have hated me for it, but I was very nitpicky about grammar, spelling and formatting for any client facing documentation, such as weekly reports, emails, briefing sheets, etc.
Since moving in-house, I’ve reviewed the work of two agencies and one PR contractor. This has opened my eyes to the vast number of PR agencies – large, boutique and everything in-between – and the level of service available within the industry.
I recognize that PR agencies desire to work with the CMO to ensure that PR is integrated within the marketing strategy. I agree. PR undertaken as an island from marketing doesn’t help a company provide a consistent face to the public.
As a person who may be involved in selecting a PR agency or contractor, my trust is earned by the attention to detail and how results truly map back to my company’s goals. With all the priorities on my plate, I have to confirm that providing this information will truly benefit my company’s marketing goals and not waste time.
Here are my recommendations – based on a start-up company with less than $15,000 a month retainer:
- 1) Use spell check/grammar check – First impressions are key. Paying attention to spelling and basic grammar indicates that you can write well.
- 2) Correct names – This goes to attention to detail. I’ve lost count how many times my name (Cece – the second “c” is NOT capitalized) has been misspelled. Check the signature. Spelling my name and my company’s name correctly tells me that you care about me as a potential client.
- 3) Deliver what you promise – I have a tight budget and demanding deliverables. Be truthful about what you can or cannot do with the budget I have. If you promise me the moon or my budget, I’ll hold you to that. My expectations have been set.
- 4) Staff appropriately – I think the biggest concern I have about PR agencies is the number of accounts an account person manages/staffs. This goes back to being realistic. Smaller accounts require less people who can devote more hours on the account. If you can’t support this, don’t pitch the business.
- 5) Simple measurements – It’s key to provide recommendations on how to consistently and simply measure PR. This will provide a foundation on how to track this back to my organization’s marketing programs.
- 6) Courtesy of Kevin Dugan’s comments: Honesty – Admit when you’re wrong. It’s human nature to hide when you’ve done something wrong, especially in an agency environment when you’re the “expert”. But with emails and status reports, the possibility of being caught in a lie is high. We all make mistakes. Those who admit mistakes demonstrate a maturity and confidence that will reassure me in the long-term. Those who don’t just tells me you don’t know what you’re talking about.
With these tips in mind, go earn my trust!