“A good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there.” – H. Stanley Judd, Author, Think Rich
While there are many things that go into a successful ad agency new business program, one that is often overlooked or underutilized is the strategic use of public relations. Whether your agency emphasizes inbound or outbound marketing—or a combination of the two—PR is an important tool that can help you attract attention and generate new business opportunities.
I believe the key to using PR to drive agency leads is to have a strategy in place that compliments new business initiatives with a clear focus, target and purpose. Without those elements, PR tactics tend to lack direction and consistency, or they simply fall off an agency’s radar as the tyranny of the urgent takes over.
A PR plan that compliments your agency’s new business initiatives will serve as a road map to guide you in reaching your destination. Going through the discipline of developing a written plan will pay great dividends in terms of helping you manage your time, resources and activities in the most effective way possible.
Here are three recommended planning steps to help you maximize PR for new business:
STEP 1: Ask yourself some important questions.
Be brutally honest in assessing your agency’s strengths and weaknesses; evaluating what your agency does best; and determining whether your greatest need is to create awareness or to change the perception of your agency. Another strategic consideration is whether you want PR to help position your agency team as experts in an existing niche or aid you in entering a new industry and becoming experts there.
Being vague in your positioning and trying to be all things to all people won’t help you stand out from your competition and likely will result in a confusing image for your agency.
STEP 2: Clearly define whom you want to reach through your PR efforts.
Identifying and understanding your audiences is critical to new business success. Public relations can help you get in front of influencers and decision makers who may be difficult to connect with through other means.
Once you have identified your target audience, you also need to know:
- Their needs and desires
- Their level of interest and knowledge in what your agency has to offer
- What other options they have for the services you provide
- Your agency’s point of differentiation and why you are their best choice
- What messaging will resonate with them
- The most efficient communication vehicles to reach them
STEP 3: Define your focus and limit your PR efforts to news media and social media outlets that directly serve your target audience.
When I was on the editorial side of a healthcare magazine, I never ceased to be amazed at some of the obviously inappropriate pitches PR people sent my way. It was pretty easy to tell who had taken the time to read our magazine and understand the types of stories we covered, and who chose a shotgun approach to pitching. If you wanted to reach Chicago-area healthcare providers, our magazine could help you do so. But sending us information about unrelated topics—like the press kit I received one day about a horse show—was a sure way to have it land in the nearest trash can.
If your plan is properly targeted, the PR tactics you employ will give your agency higher visibility, position you as an expert in a particular niche and get the attention of decision makers—all of which are invaluable in helping generate new business leads.
This is a guest post written by Don Beehler. Don is principal of ABC&D Communications, a public relations agency in Franklin, Tennessee. His blog, The Art of Telling Your Story, provides PR tips, tactics and tools for small- and medium-sized ad agencies and businesses.
Don will be speaking at Fuel Lines New Business Conference 2015, which will be held at the new Music City Center, Nashville, Tennessee, October 8-9. Click here for more conference details.
My personal recommendation:
“I’ve known and worked with Don for over a decade. He has worked in a number of the leading ad agencies as well as PR firms. He is one of the few professionals who is equally comfortable in either industry and more importantly can seamlessly integrate both practices. It never fails, whenever I recommend someone to talk with Don about their marketing or public relations needs, they are impressed with his knowledge, communication skills and personal integrity. Whatever communication challenges your company faces, it is worth a conversation with Don.”