So You’ve Switched to the Dark Side?

June 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

WRITTEN BY LIZ GRAMS

Hello all! To begin my first blog post, I would like to introduce myself. I recently graduated from Marquette University with a major in public relations this past May and joined the Vollrath Associates team as account coordinator shortly after. Before joining Vollrath Associates, I spent a year working in a corporate public relations department. At Marquette University, I was a four year member and captain of the dance team as well as a part of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).

 As a public relations major, I was often told about various jobs I could have after graduation. These generally fell into two categories: corporate or agency. As I saw it, corporate sounded straight-laced, closed-toed and completely boring while a PR agency sounded like bouncing-off-the-walls, crazy insanity, and I wanted nothing to do with either one of them.

 However, I love public relations and could never see myself in any other profession. I have since tried both sides of the spectrum and am happy to report that, not only am I alive, but that one can work at, enjoy and even love your job in both a corporate or agency setting. With time spent on both sides of the business, I am able to offer a few tips for both companies and PR firms when working together.   

Don’t be a gatekeeper. Information is essential for both parties. The more details you are able to provide, positive or negative, are helpful if they are provided honestly. It might seem advantageous to protect your position on either the corporate or agency side by withholding certain items, but this tactic is usually detrimental in the long run. Whether discussing a realistic timeline of what can be accomplished or describing a particular in-office situation that could compromise the project, the more information that is known upfront by both parties, the greater the opportunity to take appropriate action.

Educate. When interacting with colleagues outside of the PR office or department (from developers to salespeople), it’s often found that literally everyone thinks they know PR. Apparently, it’s “common sense.” When presenting ideas and promoting PR successes, especially within a company setting, it’s often advantageous to educate the other group involved so that everyone is on the same page as they move forward.

Be responsive. Be conscious of one another’s time. The quicker you can accomplish something for your client or customers, the faster they will follow-up with you. I’m not saying twist your ankle because you’re trying to make it to the scanner and back to your computer in under 10 seconds to deliver a proposal. Simply put: Try to be efficient, and don’t take three days to email a promised file.

Focus on the bottom line. Realize that both organizations depend on each other. The client doesn’t drive the PR agency and the PR agency doesn’t dictate to the client. Ultimately, both parties are serving the customer. Therefore, the client and PR agency are more similar than they are different. It is important to recall this item when disagreements arise. 

Say no. Those two little letters make everyone shutter, but don’t overpromise when you know you are unable to fulfill the task at hand. Both companies and PR agencies can remember this when determining what should be expected from the other group to deliver. Be realistic, and if a project isn’t right for you, give an alternative suggestion of what can be done instead. If the project is out of your realm, suggest who can do the job right. They may return the favor in the future.

Commit. It’s not just for romantic relationships anymore. In order to have a successful partnership, companies must fully trust their PR agencies and PR agencies must be completely committed to their clients. When this confidence in one another is mutual, the partnership becomes more powerful and efficient.

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