This week I started thinking about the clients I work with at the moment, and the law firm clients that I've previously managed in an earlier life working in PR agencies. This made me think about 'value' and how lawyers can ensure they get the most of this from their legal PR activities.
I've always found that the most successful campaigns involve a combination of great PR expertise (that's a given), sparkling imagination and a sense of humour, and from the lawyers; interest, enthusiasm, a basic understanding of PR and a willingness to stand up and be counted.
To get straight to the point of this post; PR needs top-level buy in and continued support. That's the bottom line. So what can lawyers do to ensure they get the most out of their agency or in-house team?
- Tell us about your business. We need to know what's going on - good and bad. If you're merging, making redundancies, or experiencing huge growth; then tell us. We can maximise the good news, and manage the bad. Trust us, it's part of our job to keep secrets.
- Commit to regular (but effective) meetings. Ideally these should combine elements of review and forward planning and last no more than 45 minutes. Actions should be clearly defined and deadlined.
- Respond to requests quickly and clearly. A 'yes' or 'no' answer is usually enough in the first instance. For example - do you want to provide comments on the Budget to one of the key local business publications? 'Yes' or 'No' = SIMPLES. A quick 'yes' allows your PR to approach the publication, write comments, seek approval for these, and amend them if necessary. Little effort required from you - just a few moments to review and approve.
- Be enthusiastic. If you have something interesting and different to say, people are more likely to listen. We act as your media filter - say what you want in front of us, and we'll polish it and make it media-friendly.
- Allow us to write content from scratch. Expecting us to rehash something you've written wastes both your time (scratching your head and then typing/ dictating) and ours (trying to polish your comments, whilst also avoiding offence).
- Don't be afraid to have your own ideas - but listen to us when we say no. We absolutely appreciate input, but trust us to know what works and what doesn't.
- Expect and embrace targets. The days of 'we'll give you x days per month for £x' are over. As the client (of an agency or in-house team) it's reasonable to expect deliverables. Admittedly, PR success can be difficult to measure on a budget, but it is possible to set basic targets such as outputs, target publications, key messages, sentiment. And for social media such as Twitter - audiences, follower numbers, conversation levels and retweets. For those with more money to spend, it's possible to measure audience awareness on a 'before' and 'after' basis, as well as a whole host of other things.
By Victoria Moffatt.
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