Blogs  / February 17, 2021

A roadmap to impactful collaboration with your PR agency

by Sean O'Neal, President

Working with a PR agency can help you better understand your market, expand your network of valuable connections, bring in fresh ideas and extra resources, and, as a result, run a more successful communications operation. We’ll discuss how to select the right PR agency for your organization, how to set up a productive relationship from the start, and more in our upcoming webinar, The Complete Guide to Building an Impactful Relationship with your PR Agency.

Today we’re reviewing the next steps after choosing an agency partner: onboarding your account team, establishing the optimal scope and budget, setting goals, measuring and reporting on KPIs, and creating structures for an ongoing review and planning cycle. 

Onboarding your PR agency, and establishing the optimal scope and budget

Don’t underestimate the power of an onboarding process for any new strategic partner you bring in to support you, including your PR agency. The way you handle onboarding will in many ways make or break a successful collaboration with an agency.

Onclusive has collected some of the best practices for a PR agency onboarding process, which have helped our customers make the most of their agency relationships. 

  1. First, thoroughly educate the agency on your business, including:
    • Your brand and what you stand for
    • Business objectives, marketing and communications goals, and PR objectives—it is important to share the full picture
    • Current strategy and tactics to meet those goals
    • Business, marketing and communications KPIs
    • Strategic decision-making process (ongoing, monthly, quarterly, etc.) 
    • Reporting structure (e.g. who and how often)
  1. Then, co-create your ideal working relationship by having conversations about:
    • Roles and responsibilities of the internal communications team versus PR agency (e.g. media relations, crisis management, social media, etc.)
    • Scope of the agency retainer
    • Key PR success metrics
    • Reporting needs and expectations (how, what, when)
    • Preferred communication methods and ongoing meeting cadence (check-ins, business reviews, planning sessions)
    • Main agency and client points of contact

One of the most important topics you’ll want to further discuss during the PR agency onboarding process is the scope of the agency retainer and the budget needed to execute on it. The typical PR agency toolkit can be quite comprehensive, depending on the specific agency’s areas of focus. To hone in on the scope and budget that’s optimal for your brand, review your communications goals, priorities and needs, and be ready to discuss where the agency can most help you move the needle given their particular expertise and resources.

The onboarding process is a great opportunity to clarify your expectations about the level of support you need from your PR agency and discuss with your account team what they need from you to deliver on those expectations, including the budget.

Setting goals aligned with communications objectives

To ensure that the goals you establish with your PR agency contribute to your organizational success, start with reviewing your overall business, marketing and communications objectives. Using them as your guiding posts will help align your PR strategy with the key business outcomes for your brand, such as increased awareness, brand engagement or website traffic and actions.

The next step is analyzing your communications measurement data to set realistic PR benchmarks based on past performance, as well as current resources, budget and talent. Measuring the real business impact of your communications activity is important not only for goal-setting, but also for being properly supported as a function by your organization.

Once you have a clear idea of where you’ve been, where you’re going, and what resources you have to get there, you can drive the goal-setting process in collaboration with your PR agency. Onclusive recommends setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) in all aspects of your business, including PR.

As you’re setting your PR goals and success metrics, tie them to dollars and / or corporate reputation whenever possible. These are the tangible outcomes that will resonate with your C-suite, while keeping your PR agency accountable to deliver results that will move the needle for your brand.

Measuring and reporting on metrics that matter

Now that you’ve set your PR agency goals, how will you measure success? Onclusive has developed a way to reliably measure the business impact of communications and PR across the entire customer journey, helping determine the quality, resonance, influence, and bottom line impact of every article—metrics that matter to your executive team.

Here are the key metrics our customers commonly use to track and showcase communications and PR success in their organizations:

  • Volume of Coverage: overall, target media, specific campaigns
  • Share of Voice: the quantity of your coverage vs. your competitors
  • Power of Voice™: the quantity + quality of your coverage vs. your competitors, including content relevance, publication authority, social media amplification and sentiment
  • Social Amplification: social engagement with your content
  • Message Resonance: spokespersons, products, value propositions, events
  • PR Attribution™: business outcomes influenced by your media coverage, such as website traffic, demo requests, sign-ups, sales and revenue

When it comes to reporting, the best practice is to establish a cadence that works well for your team and your C-suite. Will there be weekly check-ins? Ongoing reports on a monthly and quarterly basis? Most of Onclusive’s customers do all of the above and roll the reports from their PR agencies into the monthly communications dashboard they share with their executive teams.

Finally, we want to touch on creating structures for an ongoing review and planning cycle. Scheduling quarterly business reviews (QBRs) and ongoing strategic planning sessions has helped many of our customers be proactive vs. reactive, and use both their internal resources and external experts to develop and refine their communications strategy.

Using technology for PR measurement, reporting and strategic planning

AI-powered technology tools like Onclusive can help unify your communications and PR measurement, data and reporting across teams, regions and external consultancies. 

The Onclusive platform enables you to effectively monitor global media coverage for your brand and competitors and demonstrate which content is influencing website traffic, conversions, and revenue. Our Customer Success team is ready to set up both your team and your PR agency and help you produce unified weekly, monthly and quarterly reports with a click of a button.

Join us for “The Complete Guide to Building an Impactful Relationship with Your PR Agency” webinar next week on Thursday, February 25th! In this session, our panelists from both the brand and agency sides will provide guidance on selecting and onboarding a PR agency, setting goals, communicating strategies and providing constructive feedback to foster a productive relationship between your communications team and your agency. We will highlight best practices and discuss examples of relationships that worked, as well as ones that did not.