So the brown stuff has officially hit the proverbial fan. The head office is in shambles, people are running through the office corridors, you’re pretty sure that weird smell is something on fire and, on top of everything, the snack cupboard is empty (*gasp*). Everyone is asking themselves how they can save the business when the management team comes up with a brilliant idea:
“Let’s PR this! Call in the agencies for a pitch.”
Though turning to an agency may seem like a smart move during a crisis, the reality is that turning to PR professionals in the midst of a brown-stuff storm will likely be an extremely expensive solution, all things considered. Unfortunately, a company in the situation described above will likely turn into a case of “too little, too late”.
But more than that, the question is this: is a crisis really the best time to start looking for a public relations firm for support?
So! When is the right time to hire a PR firm, you ask?
When you don’t need a PR agency
Business is good, revenue and profitability are up, the team is growing. With everything going so smoothly, what would you need a public relations agency for? This is, in fact, the most opportune time to start exploring public relations strategies to bolster the business, set up relationships with media, grow awareness and reputation in the market against competitors, as well as establish lead generation strategies with marketing. Why? When business is good, resources are available in terms of budget and time to build the foundational pillars that can help protect a business during times of reputational or operational crisis.
When you have a clear business strategy
It is crucial that leadership within the business know precisely where the business needs to go to continue its momentum. With a clear strategy, each function has the ability to work towards a common goal, and, more importantly, work in unison with each other, as well as with an agency.
Even if the company is in a volatile period or undergoing dramatic changes, clear direction and communication from the leadership will help a communications team and the agency understand how best to provide support during tumultuous times. What’s more, engaging an agency during times of clarity will prevent them from being stuck working on last-minute, low-impact tactical projects, or, even worse, on initiatives that have been cancelled or are no longer in line with business priorities.
When the ENTIRE management team is on-board
The CEO may be walking in the right direction, but if the full leadership team isn’t walking in-step, some stumbles are inevitably going to occur. This doesn’t just mean sharing a vision and strategy for the business – it means open and clear lines of communication between department heads and the separate divisions, whether that be finance, marketing, operations or sales. When everyone is walking the same path, an incoming agency will be in a position to immediately hit the ground running with proper on-boarding sessions and the development of the right type of strategy to support the business.
When everything is in place and you’re asking, ‘…what now?’
The revelation that everything is in place for a public relations agency to come in can be an exciting one – but what should you actually look for in an agency? How do you start those conversations? How can you tell if that agency is the right agency?
Luckily, if you have a clear business strategy that the entire management team has agreed upon and your company is doing well, that means your clear business strategy and direction can be communicated easily to the agency. Indeed, the right agency will be able to demonstrate measurable ROI, whether that be through supporting a brand with reputation development, building up the employer branding or developing lead generation strategies.
And if you don’t have everything in place? Well, the right agency will be the first to tell you so. So when the brown stuff hits the fan, your business will not only have a public relations agency that truly understands and fits into the business, media relationships have been developed, awareness and reputation have grown, allowing you to weather that storm with ease.
If you’re reading this article and think it’s the right time to hire a PR firm, talk to us maybe: firstname.lastname@example.org