It’s every business’ worst nightmare: you’ve stretched your budget to allocate resources to a new space, in this case Public Relations (PR), and the return on investment just isn’t there. Sometimes, you might have even sunk thousands into working with a PR agency before coming to this conclusion. As a result of what you now consider a gamble, other areas of your business have suffered and continue to in the short-term while the business tries to catch its breath and recoup costs.

There are many reasons a relationship with a PR agency may fail

 

We can put it down to simple miscommunication or a misunderstanding. Perhaps there was more to it. Like any business relationship, breaking up with another company can turn sour and while there is a time and place to take stock and consider where it all went belly up, it’s crucial you remember why you sought out a partner in the PR space to begin with. If you went into this for the right reasons, you’ll soon realise that all of those reasons still exist and you now have a gap you need to fill.

There are two types of PR: proactive and reactive PR

 

While a business could choose to get by without actively seeking to incorporate PR into their overall Business Strategy (proactive PR), it’s a risk to ignore reactive PR. Why? You may very well come to regret thoughts such as, “our little business will never get caught up in any negative publicity. These funds are better spent elsewhere at the moment.” Turning a blind eye to a possible situation is never a good way to do business. The unexpected is always possible and in such times, you need to have some kind of Strategy to combat the chance your brand may be embroiled in negative media coverage. Having an experienced professional on-hand to guide you in terms of the best way to react in such a situation, is priceless.

Beware of the domino effect

 

The poor handling of any PR situation can have many grave consequences for any business. No business or business owner is immune. It sounds over the top but one big bad PR experience has the potential to put an end to everything you and your colleagues have worked hard to build or at the very least, cause your business to experience a major set-back. You can lose your customer’s loyalty and trust, which can have a direct impact on sales. Additionally, these high pressure situations can lead to internal issues among your team and your business failing to retain top industry talent.

One bad experience with a PR agency isn’t reflective of the entire industry

 

Finding the right fit in terms of which PR agency or consultant to work with is integral to your long-term success with PR. Let’s not pull any punches: there are some people out there in the PR space who are not leading with integrity. And there are others (we like to think many more), who are fantastic at what they do and are dedicated to generating real results for their clients.

Be wary of people who promise the world

 

If you hear anyone in the PR space guaranteeing you coverage, regardless of where that coverage may be, run away as fast as you can. No professional will guarantee results they just cannot promise they’ll be able to deliver. Yes, having relationships with key people in the media helps but a lot of factors come into play as to whether a story is run.

It always pays to do your homework ahead of time – know what questions you need to ask, get a solid understanding of what the Strategy is, ask for regular updates if all you’re hearing is radio silence and always ask to approve any messaging (media releases, any articles that are ghost written, your quotes) beforehand (although, any reputable consultant or PR firm will prompt approvals).

Don’t write off the entire PR industry because you’ve had one or two bad experiences with agencies in the past. Learn the lessons you need to and start searching for an agency or consultant who can help your business tap into the power of storytelling. If your budget is tight, it’s best to look at a consultant to begin with as generally speaking, their operating costs are far lower than an agency.

If you’re ready and committed to working with a PR consultant who is every bit as passionate and dedicated to your business and its goals as you are, let’s chat about how we can work together to make your goals a reality.

Sarah Cannata

Founding editor at This Woman Can
Sarah Cannata is the founding editor of This Woman Can, a trained journalist, PR consultant and has over 6 years' worth of experience in Communications. She's also an aspiring picture book author.
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