Keep the lines of communication open with your PR team

Although your PR team could be outsourced, you should not treat it as an outsider, or solely a vendor.

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So you successfully launched your product, your website is up and running and you are ready to tell the world about your business. You decide to hire a PR agency to connect you with the media and increase brand awareness. PR is an integral part of a strong marketing effort, if not the core.

As a business you could be outsourcing many things to other vendors, including your marketing and PR activities. However, although your PR team could be outsourced, you should not treat it as an outsider, or solely a vendor.

To ensure you get the most out of your PR agency you need to keep in mind that it is a two-way relationship, and although they would be doing all the work in terms of connecting you to the right media personnel, your involvement is equally important.

Below are a few pointers to keep in mind as you engage with your PR agency:

Maintain a connection. Consider your PR agency an extension of your team. Keep them in the loop with what is going on with your business. Are you expanding? Will you be hiring a consultant? Or perhaps you would open two new stores? Whatever it is, keep them connected to your business. Depending on your work schedule and where your agency is located, you could either conduct bi-weekly meetings in person or weekly conference calls. Your business could be going through a lot, and so ensuring that your PR agency is aware of how things are turning out, you could maintain a good result. It is a good idea to involve them as you have product development meetings or as you bring new clients on board, as they could provide great advice on how you should proceed. Depending on your agency, they could also take a look at your proposals, presentations, and make sure that the content is aligned with your business, not backfiring on you.

Your PR agency would bring in media interview opportunities. Depending on the publication, they might need a quick response. Usually with wires and daily newspapers, the window is very tight and they would require a feedback with one to two hours maximum. To maintain a relationship with that publication as well, ensure that you stick to the deadline given and appreciate that some journalists work on tight deadlines. Remember that the exposure is good for the business, so being flexible is key and the exposure would benefit you and your business in the long run.

Give your PR team a heads-up. Would you be launching a new product or expanding to a new location and need to invite journalists to the opening party or need a press release to be drafted? Then ensure that you give your PR agency enough time to work on that. Do not wait until a day or two before. With event invitations, it is best to send them out a week to10 days in advance. Giving your agency enough time also gives them room to target the right journalists, suggest ways to ensure maximum exposure and ensure that all your content, whether it's press releases or marketing materials, is ready. Involving the team early on could also be beneficial, for they could provide you with creative ideas regarding your event, what your invitation should look like and how it should be written. They could even provide valuable suggestions for venues.

Last but not least, consider them as advisers for your overall marketing efforts. Invite them to your brainstorming marketing sessions, ensure that they are there at any event or product launch, introduce them to your key stakeholders, and make them familiar with all your team members. To best reflect your business and talk about it to the media, they need to be as much part of it as possible.

PR plays a vital role when it comes to marketing efforts. Follow the above tips to get the most of your team and to ensure that your targets are met.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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