What to expect when working with a PR agency

Updated January 2024 – The world of public relations (PR) can be overwhelming and even intimidating. That’s why we decided to share some best practices and set expectations of what a PR agency really does and how they can support the growth in your business and reputation. Let’s take a look at what to expect when working with a PR agency. Typical PR agencies are cut from a similar cloth and while not everything will be the same if you work with different teams, you can count on a few areas to match up. In addition, you should be ready to set your expectations when working with an agency. While it may look like magic, it definitely takes a lot of hard work.

Hire a PR team you can trust

When you’re vetting your PR team, make sure to ask them questions that are specific to what they would do for your brand, not just generalize about the services they offer. Any good PR agency should be able to hear your business challenges, possibly do a little research, and generate ideas specific to you fairly quickly. Their ideas to drive your program forward will be crucial to your success. It’s ok to test out their thought process before you hire a team, ask them to provide 1-2 things they may pitch for you. In fact, the more confident you are that they have the right story for you, the better service they can provide. While your new PR team may not know all the technical details of what you do, they should be able to offer strategic recommendations and creative ideas. Ultimately, having a public relations team in place that you can trust will help alleviate some of the stress of wondering what to expect when working with a PR agency.

Start with a public relations kickoff call

Most new campaigns start with a kickoff call that will get all your “ducks in a row”. In this call, you should discuss how the team works with each other, how you will be reporting, and any other expectations that have been set. The PR team should also do the same, so you have a clear understanding of how you’ll be engaging and interacting with each other during the time that you collaborate.

Your expertise is required

We can’t say enough that PR takes work from all the team members. PR is not magic, even though sometimes it feels like a silver bullet. You should expect that your PR team can give you the best strategic PR insights possible, however, you are required to provide the best level of subject matter expertise possible as well, especially at the onset of a new relationship. Often times once we get message and voice down, we can fly on our own but the beginning of the relationship is where you should top-load subject matter expertise. The more technical the topic the more you’ll need to support your PR team. Remember, we are not here to become professionals in what you do, we are professionals in bridging the communication gap and translating what you do into a language that will attract your key stakeholders.

Prioritize media interviews

When your team secures a media interview, respond as quickly as possible. There are plenty of fish in the sea and reporters are typically working against deadlines. Make sure you are prepared to accommodate media interviews surrounding announcements and in your schedule. Sometimes you WILL need to make room. The longer you make the media wait, the less interested they are in speaking with you and you may lose your chance.

Content creation can be a bottleneck

The more we dive into thought leadership and content creation, the more we are finding slow processes. Make sure that you have someone on your team that can move the approval process along, whether it’s content or scheduling. There have been times when we have secured an article placement, but it didn’t publish until several months later. Remember that not only do you have to approve it for submission, but once it’s submitted it may take more time to get approved. You may have an agency doing a bulk of the work, but it is critical to make regular time for PR.

If you don’t know, just ask your PR representative

We are here to guide you through the communications process. If you’re ever curious your agency should be prepped and primed to guide and educate you on the process of PR and sometimes we may forget that you’re not doing what we do, day in and day out. Have questions? Just ask. Additionally, there are numerous reputable sources for all things PR available online, like PR News Online.

Your PR team should be giving you strategic recommendations

While tactical work is the prize of PR, you should also be getting strategic input on your marketing communications programs that align with what you’re doing with PR. Communication alignment is very important in creating consistent messaging across your organization. Your PR team should be able to identify gaps, deliver recommendations and identify new opportunities on an ongoing basis during your engagement.

PR is not immediate

A seasoned PR team should be able to get up and running fairly quickly (3-4 weeks) and begin generating results within the first 3 months of service. Typically, if we don’t get positive feedback within 6-7 weeks from media outlets we start pivoting our message, because frankly sometimes outreach doesn’t work the first time around. Most companies we speak to are anxious to see results quickly. While it’s definitely not impossible (especially if you have significant news or an event) patience is a bit of a virtue. Even when you secure a media interview, the coverage may not always be immediate, the reporter may just be prepping for a future story or collecting resources. Keep in mind that media relations is a task of relationship building. While you may not reap immediate benefits, your PR team should consistently stay vocal with the subject matter expertise that you can provide to key media targets.

If you still don’t know what to expect when working with a PR agency…

If you still feel as though you don’t know what to expect when working with a PR agency or if you have additional questions, feel free to set up a complimentary call with public relations expert and CEO of a full service PR agency, The Silver Telegram, Ronjini Joshua, to further discuss what to expect when working on your new PR program.