5 Tips to Prep Your Clients for PR Success

Companies considering hiring PR support to grow their business may be eager to jump right into working with an agency, without first identifying business goals or understanding how to find the right publicist fit for them. Ellie McNevin, founder and head of PR at Birdie Public Relations, developed a video course to address this challenge—which benefits both clients and comms teams. She shares her insights on prepping clients for PR success below, plus a peek at (and special offer for) her newly launched course. 

At Birdie Public Relations we often work with start-ups or brands at the incubator stage. They have incredible potential but need guidance on growing their brand and building national awareness. We regularly get questions about when a brand should bring on PR support or what they can do to make sure they get the best possible results when working with an agency. I’m sure many of you have gotten similar questions. It’s why we launched a video course (something I never thought I would do!) to help answer these questions and make for more compelling work and better long-term partnerships. 

Ellie McNevin 

"Strategy Meets Storytelling: Prime Your Brand for PR" was created as a tool for brands and for PR professionals that want to give current and potential clients a strong foundation as you head into a long-term partnership. I’m sharing a few takeaways below, but agency partners are welcome to email courses@birdiepublicrelations.com to set up an agency account and offer special discounted rates to their clients. We hope this will be a tool to brands and agency partners to help bring more impactful results to the PR industry. 

1. Set Clear Expectations

PR means different things to different agencies and to different brands. Make sure your potential clients know exactly what your services entail and what they can expect from working together. You may also need to explain the difference between PR and marketing and where they need to bring in additional support. Work together to decide on your communication cadence and reporting calendar. It will make for a smoother partnership in the long-run.

2. Don’t Sleep on Affiliate Marketing

We all know that affiliate marketing isn’t going anywhere. If your client has a product, make sure they are maximizing PR success by offering a commission to media partners. It will only amplify your outreach efforts.

3. Conduct a Website and Social Media Audit

Editors are going to visit a client’s website and social media before almost anything else. Review these channels together before approaching editors to make sure they tell a strong and cohesive story.

4. Know Their Point of Differentiation

You can’t write a pitch without knowing why your client is different. Spend some time with them looking at competitors and be honest with them about what will set them apart in a noisy media landscape. Niceties won’t necessarily help in this exercise. Constructive feedback will help build a stronger story.

5. Make Sure Visual Assets Are Killer

How often have we heard from editors that you only get one chance to make a first impression? As a former editor with Condé Nast and Hearst, I know how true that is. And as publicists we know that strong images make all the difference in a pitch landing or not. Make it easy on yourself and give your clients a checklist of images they need to have with examples for each. Build up your image arsenal quickly so it doesn’t hold you up later.

Recruiting Best Practices in A Candidate-Driven Market

As evidenced by our active jobs page, there are tons of opportunities out there for marcomms pros of all levels. While this is great for talent, the candidate-driven market can be challenging for companies to navigate. We asked experts in the space to share the top considerations employers should keep in mind for recruiting, hiring and retaining the right talent.

PRTNR Recruiting

“Hiring the right talent is so crucial for many reasons,” says Jamie Grossman, founder and recruiter at PRTNR Recruiting. “Company morale is super important, and employees don’t want to see high turnover. Employees will get nervous about their job stability, and productivity will slow down when they see a great deal of change.” 

When it comes to identifying the right person from a pool of applicants, Laura O’Hare, founder of The O’Hare Group, recommends employers keep an open mind. “Employer flexibility is important right now but not necessarily around the assumed guidelines (salary, PTO, hybrid work schedule),” she says. “There are candidates looking to move into different business areas and can be considered for appropriate roles. Depending on the qualifications of a role, if someone doesn’t have exact media contacts or relationships, it shouldn’t be an automatic disqualifier.”

She continues, “Also, years of experience should flex. Someone with 2-3 years of experience for a role specifying 4-5 could be considered depending on aspects like team structure. The quest to find the right person to fit a job description can be as successful, if not more successful,  if you are also looking for the right person for the agency, team and culture.

It all starts with the interview. “Be strategic and thoughtful with your interview process,” says Gillian Williams, president and founder of Monday Talent. “Interviews should be used as both an opportunity to get to know if a candidate can fulfill the role requirements but to also attract them to the position and your organization. I have seen numerous companies lose out on amazing talent because of how they approached the interview process. While you want to be thorough when vetting candidates, you also want to attract them to your company.”

As Grossman says, “Interviewing and onboarding are time-consuming and expensive if you have turnover, so you want to ensure you are hiring smart.” In addition to crafting the right interview, employers should follow a more fast-paced timeline to match the candidate demand. “You don’t want to drag the process on, and you don’t want to meet too many people that your open role becomes the talk of the town,” she continues. “Candidates get nervous when they hear a company is always hiring for the same position.” 

Being thorough while moving quickly makes for an efficient process, for both the employer and potential employee. “While it might be ideal for you to interview multiple candidates for a position, if you meet someone you really like I suggest moving forward with them vs. waiting to see if a ‘better’ option comes along,” says Williams. “The pace that things move in this market makes it very difficult for employers to compare and contrast multiple candidates for an open role.”

PRTNR Recruiting

When crafting your interview, Grossman recommends a couple of different components. “Behavioral interview questions are a great way to get to know a candidate, and it allows you to see how the candidate problem-solves, communicates and sees their career evolving. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but ask candidates what they would consider the most significant accomplishment in their career thus far and why. This is also great for junior-level candidates, because it could be the interview they are currently sitting in. Then flip the question and ask them, ‘What would one of your past employees or colleagues say was one of your most significant accomplishments?’ It allows you to see how they react when asked how they feel others see their quality of work.”

She also reminds employers that reference checks are still super important, as they shed light on how the candidate might or might not fit with a company’s existing teams and culture. Since time is of the essence here, it’s important not to put too many steps ahead of doing the sometimes longer process of a reference check. 

There’s also the salary conversation to consider. “The new requirement to disclose salary range can be a challenge or uncomfortable as competition in the market increases,” says O’Hare. “The more transparent, the better your search will go in the long run. Candidates know from the start what the range of compensation will be and decide from there. There are candidates at all salary ranges so there are people to fill roles across levels.” 

The many aforementioned components of hiring should all be thought of ironed out before the recruitment process begins. Williams underscores the time aspect. “You must move quickly in this market. If you like someone, hire them! I have seen many organizations I work with lose out on talent because they did not move quickly enough with the search. In a candidate driven market it is not uncommon for candidates to be interviewing with several companies at once. While a position with your company might be their dream role, if they are eager to leave their current position (or ready for a new role if they are not currently employed), it would be hard for them to walk away from a job offer if they don't have guarantee from your company that you will be hiring them (aka a job offer!).”

Once you’re ready to make that offer, make sure you’re setting your new hire up for success. “Always make sure expectations are set and agreed to before the new hire starts,” says Grossman. “Onboarding is critical across the board to a successful hire; when expectations and onboarding are not buttoned up, managers tend to be less satisfied with their new employees. Simultaneously, employees feel they need to be given the proper tools to be successful.” 

Companies seeking great talent shouldn’t be discouraged by the candidate-driven landscape. Instead, they should refine their recruitment process to capture the right candidate’s attention – and keep it.

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