It doesn’t matter what business you’re in as you grow, eventually you will face the challenge of hiring an advertising agency.
Now, for clarity when I say “advertising agency” I’m also talking about any kind of creative agencies that offer creative marketing services like PR firms or even commercial or video production houses.
Creative People Are Strange People
In the 25+ years I’ve worked as a voice over artist I’ve had the privilege of working with some seriously innovative, imaginative and sometimes strange creative people who were a real inspiration to me. I understand how sometimes these “creative types” can inspire apprehension more often than confidence. But trust me when I say they’re harmless and when you decide on the team to help you get your brand message out there, they will amaze you!
How ‘Spec’ Work Can Help
Spec (speculative) work has become the default decision aide in the quest for an advertising agency to help create and spread your message…while the ethics of doing work for free amongst creative companies has come under question…it will help you see what a prospective advertising agency can do for you and more importantly HOW they do it…how they work together as a team.
Choosing Is About Feeling
Unlike in episodes of Mad Men, or Robin Williams short lived TV series “The Crazy Ones” it’s not always the most creative idea that will win your contract, it’s more about the feeling you get from the team chemistry and how they work together to come up with ideas.
Choose the advertising agency who you see has the ability to produce amazing ideas as a team.
It’s All About (Losing) Control
The Dudley Moore film Crazy People (1990) showed that best…the crazier they were the better they were at generating ideas like “boxy but they’re good” for Volvo [video].
So don’t be afraid at what may look like an uncontrollable bunch. Truthfully, if you can control them, telling them what to do, they probably aren’t very good…or that creative.
How To Know For Sure
If they can understand your brand message and communicate it to your audience in a way that generates sales, you’ve found your advertising agency!
Meet with a shortlist of agencies, see what they can do for you and then pick the one who can do what they do, best!
Let me know how your search goes, I’d love to hear back from you and who you chose.
I was recently asked to help a non profit organization create a public relations action plan that they could implement on their own without the use of a PR firm.
Here’s what we did.
There are 2 distinct stages to creating a public relations action plan
- setting the groundwork and
- executing the plan
Stage 1 – Setting the Groundwork
There are 7 steps to building the foundation to your public relations action plan. Do not skip any step or do it only halfway. All of the organization’s leaders need to be involved in this stage in order to come to an unambiguous foundation to build on. I suggest a meeting dedicated to this one task.
1.Who Are You Talking To?
First, define who your end audience is, that is to say who the press will be talking to on your behalf. This will help guide the way you personalize your message. In the case of the non profit organization that I developed the plan for it was two fold: (a) the current members and (b) the members of the general public. The messages they send out to both groups isn’t always the same.
2. What’s Your Message?
Establish the message that you’re trying to disseminate. I know it sounds counter intuitive but don’t talk about your non profit organization, talk about what it does for the community. Your message should serve the needs of your audience…not your non profit organization.
3.Define Your Goal
Define the goal for your public relations efforts. What are you expecting to happen, what will your organization gain? New members? Stronger community ties?
4.Define Your Method
How will you connect with your audience? Press releases aren’t enough, you need to also consider (a) holding open houses for the press to let them meet your organization members and learn more about you, (b) press conferences to make major announcements, maybe even (c) set-up a YouTube channel and start creating video content to get your message out. Plus, it goes without saying that you’ll need to have a website.
5.Assemble Your Press Kit
It doesn’t matter what kind of public relations you’re doing you must have a digital press kit, with high resolution photographs (300dpi) of the leaders of your group and/or your group doing their activity along with documents that explain your organization and its mission. This will need to be on hand to give out at a moments notice. I would also suggest having hard copies of your press kit to hand out but in todays digital age you will use them less often.
6.Who Are Your Media Contacts
Create a list of all the media contacts relevant to your message (print, TV and radio), in your geographic region. These can be purchased. Keep this list updated and refined. For example, if your non profit organization is dedicated to classic cars, don’t include a contact for a local cooking TV show. Also, if one of your media contacts leaves find out who has replaced them and if phone numbers or email addresses change update your info. There’s nothing worse than a list that’s gone “stale” when you have something to announce. Keep your list fresh.
7.Assign A Contact Person
Once you have established the above you’ll need to assign someone responsible for directly interacting with the media. They will need to be available for any media inquiries especially after a press release has been sent out, to co-ordinate interviews between the media and your group’s spokesperson and to set-up and host a press conference. When they are not available a back-up contact person should be assigned. Always keep the back-up contact person up to date.
Stage 2 – Putting the Action in your Action Plan
Once all of the above is in place, your contact person will need to reach out to everybody on the list to introduce themselves and your non profit organization in as brief a way as possible. Depending on the size of your list it may take a few weeks of phone calls and/or face-to-face meetings. Remember, first impressions are the lasting impressions when it comes to public relations.
Create a 12-month schedule of important dates for your organization that you want your audience to be aware of and plan events and/or announcements around those times. Do you do an annual oyster party…food drive? Put it on the calendar. Are you planning an open house? Put it on the calendar. Note: don’t put more on your calendar than your contact person will have time to dedicate to especially if they’re a volunteer or do this part time.
You’ll know your public relations action plan is working when the press call you for a quote on something going on in the news.
Plan a meeting to re-examine your public relations action plan and make any necessary adjustments once every 12-months.
Before you can ask the media to do something for you, you need to be able to provide something for them…to become a resource for information relevant to their readers, viewers and listeners.
Be useful, be timely, be professional and you will receive the attention that your non profit organization deserves.
I look forward to answering your questions and comments below.