Things I've seen: investing in a PR agency too early.
Kicking off our new series ‘Things I’ve seen’ is the topic of investing in a PR agency too early. Over the past decade, I’ve heard the term “We’ve recently launched a brand and we’re now looking for a PR agency to work with to get the brand out there” hundreds of times. I hate bursting bubbles, especially those of people who have worked years to create their dream brand, but investing your money in a PR agency will not propel your brand to the ‘next level’ – at least quickly anyway. PR is a slow and steady wins the race game 98% of the time. It’s about repeat coverage, gaining credibility, building a reputation and being the go to brand for your product. It is a very important part of your awareness strategy not your only part.
To make sure you don’t make the same mistakes, I’ve jotted down the top 5 mistakes I’ve seen brands make when approaching PR in the early days:
1. Investing in PR agency for 3 months, seeing no results and leaving.
If you get anything from this series, please takeaway this: Coverage, Takes, Time. It doesn’t happen overnight (we wish). It may happen in your first month of doing PR (if it is online coverage, you hit that editor at the right time and are super lucky) but for most it starts to happen at 3- 4-month mark. Why? Because you are contacting press that are potentially working months and months ahead (sometimes 6), they don’t yet know your brand, they aren’t working on anything relevant at that exact moment… I could go on.
Countless brands have said to me “Well I invested in an agency for 3 months and we didn’t get anything” and although I sympathise, I understand why. 100% agencies should be more upfront with brands on expectations (I know we are at LFA) but it’s important to understand as a brand that when investing in an agency it needs to be 6 months minimum to start seeing the ball roll, at least a year to really start measuring the success and 2 years to start seeing a ROI.
2. Not having the right assets
Getting a response from the press (even just “Thanks for this. Will keep in mind”) feels great and is the start of a relationship that you want to keep. And the quickest way to end that relationship is by not having the assets they require to feature you. Now these assets are dependent on what the feature and publication are but the most commonly used is the ‘cut out images’ - 300dpi, high-res, white background, no shadow, shot in a way that is perfect to slip into a magazine feature. Please use a professional – We recommend Ushoot (https://www.ushootstudios.co.uk/)
3. Agency jumping
“We were with X agency but that didn’t work out so then we moved to X. That also didn’t work out so 3 months later we moved to X and now we are looking for a new agency.” Finding the right agency first time round and understanding the long-term investment is key to a long lasting partnership that drives results.
4. Spending all your budget on a PR agency and doing nothing else.
Have I mentioned that PR is a long-term investment? PR and marketing go hand in hand and work towards the same goal. So, without social media support, cleaver email marketing, digital marketing and retargeting (if budget allows) your PR strategy and output won’t be effective. Coverage from PR outreach makes people aware of your brand (and sometimes purchase) but you have to then capture that customer to make them return time and time again.
5. Not doing anything at all.
You launched and didn’t invest in a PR agency. I think without endless budget you made a wise decision but not doing anything at all is just as bad, if not worse. We had a workshop recently and one of the attendees left on the feedback form “Thank you for making me realise that there is no point in making a beautiful product if no one knows about it”. And the press will only know about it if you tell them.
I’ve worked with brands day in day out for over 10 years. I’ve seen the good, the bad and everything in-between. I was given the task of doing PR for an independent brand with no previous experience and within a few months was gaining coverage – I know that any independent brand with the right advice, resources and support can do the same without spending thousands on an agency which is why I created PR Dispatch. You can find out more about our memberships here.