Detroit PR Firms Need to Show Value in 2009
By: Andrea Trapani
(This post was inspired by a presentation by Mark Winter and a recent article from PR Week – subscription required. Hat tip to both of them.)
Many of us in the PR industry are certainly finding ourselves in a unique situation at the start of 2009. We are faced with consumer confidence being at an extreme low, the economy feeling a slight pinch and companies of all sizes seeking to cut wherever necessary to stay afloat and healthy. This economic perfect storm has led to many PR pros being asked, either directly or indirectly, to “do more with less.”
Those of us practicing in the Detroit region are certainly not immune to these conditions. While a stack of clips and some media introductions used to translate into numerous pats on the back and a bunch of “attaboys,” times have most certainly changed. Businesses around the state are nervous. Cue the sweating.
It now rests on our shoulders to demonstrate the value of our services like never before. We need to reach into our bag of tricks, tap into our available resources, revamp our efforts and showcase WHY our clients continue to keep us on board. The last thing we want is for our phone to ring and the conversation to focus on “What have you done for me lately?”
If your ready to go above and beyond in ’09, here are a few thought starters:
“Instead of doing 10 things great, I’d rather do six things awesome” – Mark Winter
When it comes to our role as a PR counsel, our plates can become full real quick. The world of business still moves at the speed of light regardless of sluggish economic conditions and we can still be called upon to provide expert advice at a moment’s notice. However, if our clients are all about value this year, how can we adhere to their expectations if we employ a shotgun approach to our services and dive into everything on a whim? Are we using our time as efficiently as possible? This begs the question: In 2009, can we get more out of saying no than yes?
Look at what you plan to accomplish this year, set some measurable goals and confirm the client is on board. Listen (seriously – really listen) to what they need and ensure that you are both on the same page. It is now up to you to stay focused on those key objectives and hold both the agency and your client accountable. That way, when new initiatives come up, you can make an educated decision whether or not it is in your best interest to get involved.
Depending on the size of the client, PR typically has a defined “space” within the organization. If may be your job just to focus on (x) and (y). This year, break down the barrier and start identifying new areas where your expertise can be valuable. Go beyond media relations or Web strategy and offer insight and advice on internal communications or the current CRM process. Be everywhere you can and become indispensable. Make your agency the last thing on your client’s mind if they need to review budgets and make cuts.
Take on a new role: educator
If you are totally in your element playing the role of a counselor, media coordinator and strategist, now is a good time to share your knowledge. Offer to come to your client’s office and play the role of instructor for the day. Discuss relevant topics such as media training or how employees can leverage LinkedIn. Find what peaks their interest and empower them to implement new strategies internally. Give them confidence to execute on their own.
If going to your clients isn’t an option, think about holding a public workshop. Demonstrate thought leadership and provide a glimpse of just how knowledgeable and passionate you are about what you do. Attract that next client by reeling them in with a great presentation on a hot PR topic. There are a number of local Detroit creative firms and professional groups already hosting “how-to” seminars and cementing their position as thought leaders in the area using this tactic.
Don’t rely on the same ol’, same ol’ this year. Mix it up and measure the results. Get creative. Take a risk.
How do you plan to show value this year? What will you do differently, or better, in 2009 that will make your clients feel that you and your services are a great investment?
(photo credit – wetwebwork)