Public Relations

Hiring a PR Agency Does Not Make You Famous!

So you hired a PR Agency?

You were excited and expected you or your brand to be plastered on the front pages of the media in the next few days. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen!

You waited, as they asked for time!

You waited some more and then you saw very little results and then you took an executive decision and fired them!

Then you hired another PR agency! This time with better credentials and also at a cost reduction of 10%. Then you went through the entire process again.

It’s not them, my friend, it’s you.

As a stakeholder in your company’s or your personal reputation management, your job is a lot more than to hire an agency. It’s also to see what content you have to offer for a robust communication plan. In a freewheeling twitter chat, held by PRPOI, we had industry mavens weigh in on this conundrum and give a whole set of sage advice that would stand anyone in this space in good stead. In an industry which is heavily fraught with misconceptions and myths, this is a sane approach to getting ahead of the communications game and finding a true partner in your agency. Our recent twitter storm on the subject had the industry opining on the topic. A few very pertinent points emerged :

PR is a Team Effort

Your agency is an extension of your brand and a partner in your efforts. Just hiring an agency may not get you the traction you need unless you have mapped out a plan in your mind on what are your long and short term communication goals. In the words of Shreela Roy, Vice President at MSL Group, “An idea is a concept that requires specialists to come together to bring it to life. Specialists who are on the field, braised to handle hurdles, troubleshoot swiftly and perceptive. It’s the baby the village has got to raise, not just the momma alone. The PR agency is the village.”

Similarly, in the words of Mou Chakraborty, Associate Director, Marketing Communications, Deloitte India , Brewing ideas constantly can’t be a one person’s job and has to be both collaborative. It’s what I call the outside in perspective and so PR agency’s role is extremely different than a specialist who is in-house prioritising the company’s objective”

A holistic approach towards collective strategies and implementation is the key to help build the brand’s mark in the industry.

Content is Supreme

The best PR Agency in the world cannot help you, if you have sketchy content to share. The pressure in the start-up and funding sector has seen a slew of start-ups engage in PR, even before their first product hits the market. Yet, this is a bad strategy as the role of media has become very evolved and everyone is looking for a cracker of a story. Raghavendra Rao, AVP at Indiassetz, comments “Client must share stories & agencies must make it big. That can only happen if the relationship is long. Both agency & client must nurture a long time relationship only then the passion to build a brand will evolve. Short term perspectives are deterrent to brand building”

 A realistic assessment of the media and digital landscape can help you work with your agency to structure content in the most suitable manner to your communication goals.

Prasidha Menon Regional Communications Lead, Airbnb also adds a word of caution, “ PR is not an exercise in narcissism but can surely bring out the narcissistic side of few people. You need to be truly invested in your work irrespective of being on the client or agency side to make it work. Good storytelling is not just about the efficacy of your product. Your leadership and the company’s mission, quality of engagement between comms and PR agency team and commitment and quality of people working on building the brand all add up to making you famous.“

It’s a Marathon, not a Race!

As Preeti Binoy, Head Corporate Communications & Govt. Affairs at Kimberly Clark, succinctly puts it, “PR serves as a means to raise awareness of good work.” PR is not a tool to drive your sales funnel, or make you famous overnight, or even to make your campaigns go viral. Nor will it guarantee impressing the investors for your next funding round. Instead see the overall efforts it works on to build a strong, stable, and credible reputation for you. Tarunjeet Rattan, Managing Partner at Nucleus PR, adds “PR is a collaborative process. Hiring a PR agency does not absolve them of all responsibility of creating a #brandreputation. It has to be done – together. One without the other is a story half read. “

Relays end in the blink of an eye but the journey to the race that follows is through nurturing a long term approach of sustaining and enduring. This being said, the clients must bring forth their stories in depth for the PR agency to help their passion to evolve and grow.

Chhavi Dang, Founder at Comm Sutra captures the essence, “PR is a long-term play. Someone asked me long back. For how long should a brand continue to do PR? I replied: it’s not a start stop service. Do you run the HR department for a limited time and stop?” PR adds the means to your daily functioning, it is an added bonus that is savoured over a period of time when time and resources are put together in an efficient manner.

Praveen Singh, Founder at StrategyVerse Consulting, has helped summarise the notion very aptly, “The PR agency acts as critical limbs of the client – the brain, nose, ears, hands, and legs.” The client provides the defined structures, however, it is not just for the agency to make breakthrough rather a team is required to invest the necessary resources for your agency.

Sonali Sokhal,

CO-Founder – PRPOI

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