Siddhartha Mukherjee: PR Firms should grow Better & Faster

08 Oct,2020

By Siddhartha Mukherjee

 

PR firms being able to extract desired fees or on-going fee hikes from clients is a rarity. Is the client to be blamed? No. More often than not, the problem hinges on the way PR companies have presented their case at the time of the performance review discussions.

 

My personal experience has been that more often than not, the PR firms have done a wonderful job! It is just that at the time of performance review discussion, there was no systematic and scientific MIS of what was done, when it was done, why it was done and finally, what the outcome was.

 

Some of the pointers below should help in our preparations going forward:

1. What was agreed in the Deliverables section of the Service Agreement

‘Why’ are we doing PR? This simple elementary question is the key to the success and future growth of the PR Firms Industry? The details and deliverables we put on the last page of the client service agreement is the key determinant and source of the what we prepare and how we present.

More often than not, PR firms keep this section vague – whether it is deliberate or naiveness is debatable. It is this act that boomerangs at the time of performance review. It prevents them to envisage the kind of MIS they need to maintain and the KRAs they need to work on.

 

2. Is the Reviewer a CXO

Is the final reviewer a CXO or a Head of Communications is an important point to keep in mind while we start our work immediately after signing up. What is the person’s understanding or perception of what we offer or the value we bring on the table? CXO’s perspective and their language – from the domain of Marketing, Sales & Brand Management – are very different from the language PR Firms use. Let us just say that there is a huge GAP

 

3. Even if it is the CCO, what is his/her background

Head of Communications come from more than one background. Part of it is because of what the employer expects from the desk. If the Employer is expecting “News Management or Headline Management”, chances are that the Corporate Communications individual will be from the journalism background or someone who has spent majority of his/her life doing “media relations” in agencies. For PR Firms, showcasing efforts etc. in such cases are relatively easier to deal with.

 

However, if the Communications Head comes with Brand Management, Marketing or Communications background, PR Firms will have to prepare much more.

 

4. What kind of MiS are we maintaining

Starting from Day One, month-on-month, the design and quality of Management Information System a PR Firm maintains internally is key towards how satisfied the Client will be with its answers during the performance review. Month-on-month client meetings, planning, management of quantity and quality of media exposure, managing of business as usual and business not as usual, balancing of corporate brand reputation, thought leadership, launches, press release dissemination, database management, etc are key to be being well prepared.

 

5. What presentation parameters do we use

Well, this section depends largely on the answers for Questions 2 & 3 above. If the evaluator is a CXO, chances are that mere discussion parameters like count of articles, advertising value, share of voice, rankings etc. may not impress him/her. The CXO has a very structured thought process and often thinks through the lens of account planning – listening to outcome. He is used to the concept of thought processes such as media planning, sustenance, recall, engagement, etc. Absence of such thought processes often irk CXOs

 

So, enough can be done. The revenue streams of PR Firm will see lesser client attrition and higher fee hikes flowing in. What is needed is to revamp the age-old thinking! This needs intent and willingness to breathe fresh air.

 

Siddhartha Mukherjee is a senior marketing services research professional. He was until last year Business Head at Eikona and is currently Founder of Brand Balance (brandbalance.in). This column appears every other Thursday.

 

 

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