Planning, teamwork and performance

в. The Sofia Echo | Miroslava KOSTADINOVA | 2009-12-04

Having appointed your public relations consultancy, your first task will be to sit down with them and draft your PR and communications strategy. You will also need to establish a routine for working with, and managing, your agency. And last, but not least, you’ll need to consider how you will assess the effectiveness of your PR efforts, to gauge the return on your investment, to measure your agency’s performance.
Successful PR, whether for a one-off event or for an ongoing programme over the longer term, requires the development of a workable communications strategy. This should set out the key objectives that you want your PR to achieve, the audiences you want to reach and the main messages that you want to get across to them, and the communication channels you intend to use to get your messages over.
Getting the PR strategy agreed and approved is one thing. Having the discipline to stick with it and follow through is another, and your company will need to allocate time and people to work with the agency to deliver against the strategy and ensure results – in other words, you’ll need to develop strong teamwork with your agency.
If your company does not have a dedicated communications manager, then you will have to appoint someone as the main point of contact for the PR agency, someone with the authority to manage and monitor PR activities.
Regular contact is essential for team-building and for ensuring that your PR requirements are being met. Meetings and conference calls enable both agency and client to jointly work through the PR programme, to ensure that the timetable of activities is fulfilled, and that deadlines are met.
Evaluating progress and performance is key to an effective relationship between PR agency and client. If both parties share a real understanding of what they want to achieve through their PR programme, they should be able to formulate a clear strategy with attainable targets. And the boss will want to know how much of a return is being generated from the communications budget. How do you do that?
There is no single answer. One crude but widely used measure is advertising-equivalent value, or AEV, whereby the physical amount of media space generated by PR activity is measured and then compared to the cost of purchasing the same amount of ad space in the same media. This method does arrive at a monetary value, but it is deeply flawed as it fails to place a value on editorial coverage, nor does it differentiate between positive, neutral or negative editorial coverage.
Other ways of measuring PR include comparing your own company’s media coverage with that of your competitors. Or whether your event was well attended. Or whether your store is receiving more customers. Did your order intake increase during a period of intense PR activity? Do your suppliers, partners and staff mention that they’ve read about you in the papers, or heard something on the radio, or visited the website? And if journalists are asking for more information about your company and its products or services, and asking more questions about what it is you do and why, and are then reporting objectively on your business then you know that your PR agency is working on your media relations.

* Miroslava Kostadinova is Country Manager (Bulgaria) at Cook Communication

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