Dear Clients and Consultants – have you been naughty or nice?

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When it comes to the client/agency relationship, there is always going to be a shifting dynamic- a ‘vibeometer’ if you like.  An old boss of mine used to say; “You’re only as good as your last press release – an article today, fish and chip paper tomorrow.”  While that was somewhat cynical (and also a sign of our times back then when print was king) there is still this constant desire to perform and meet KPIs (whether these are media articles, bums on seats, engagement etc.) and to be always achieving what we set out to do and making the client happy in the process.  Exhausting isn’t it!  Especially in media relations when outcomes rely on your skill mixed with a journalist’s decision, the news agenda of the day and a whole host of other variables that could keep you awake at night - if you let them.

And there’s the point – as PR people, what keeps us awake at night and what sends us off into dreamland for a deep and peaceful sleep?

In a nutshell – it’s the client relationship.  The ‘vibeometer’.  I have found over time there are some key elements of the client/agency relationship that can help to keep us all sleeping soundly in our beds at night – especially as we head up to the end of the year and we are looking back at everything we have achieved and where we are heading next year.

1.    Integrity– such a big word.  More than likely bandied around by many agencies in new business pitches.  The issue is that once the business is won, do you and your team stick to your word? Integrity means many things but really boils down to honesty and transparency.  If you think you can achieve an outcome, then go ahead but if it’s never going to fly then advise the client so – however high it is on their wish list. Better to be realistic and honest from the outset then after the activity has fallen over.  Often, by sitting down and involving the client in the process, a better way of doing things can be agreed upon.  Then everyone is on the same page and can share in the success when the desired outcome is achieved – and that makes for the start of a great relationship. 

2.    Go the Extra Mile– when I worked as a group director in a big blue-chip agency, we would get our knuckles wrapped for over-servicing.  While constantly over-servicing can be a drain on the team and budgets, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with going the extra mile.  That means, stretching just a little bit to get the job done - and some.   It could be just a small thing that means a lot to the client, such as securing a product review and then a one-to-one interview on top.  I recently wrote a media release for a new client then threw in some social content.  While I may not always be so generous with my time, it did help demonstrate to the client our genuine desire to help and it has lead to that small project now being extended into a longer-term relationship.  Money in the trust bank, if you like – which is what all good relationships are founded on.

3.    Stuff – to do our job well we often need to ask clients to provide ‘stuff’ to us – quality images, mission statements, design specs, prices, advertising plans…etc. To many clients who haven’t worked with an agency before, this can be a drain on time and resources – especially if it is ad hoc.  Far better, once the contract is signed, to hand over a list of everything that is required to get started and give a realistic amount of time for the client to gather everything together.  Much easier than constantly asking for stuff to be sent over at short notice – a sure fire way to put everyone on a short fuse. 

4.    Time– as a client, if you’re under the pump, it’s very easy to ask the agency to jump onto a campaign or project at short notice but by taking the time to provide a proper brief and background information, you save yourself time in the long-run.  It means we are then armed with all the information to go out and get the job done well.

5.    Go now– if the relationship has run its course and it’s time to move on, clients please be assured that we know.  The vibeometer has flicked the other way and we are lying awake in our beds wondering how to get it to move back.  If you think it’s time to part ways, then please put us out of our misery and let us know – or give us the chance to help fix it. Don’t ask us to tender if you know you want new blood – release us, let us go, so we can spend time looking for a new love – it’s the kindest thing to do.

So whether you have been naughty, or nice this year – cheers! We survived it and in this fast paced ever-changing world, that in itself is worth celebrating!

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

A Marketer’s Guide to Launch Events


Events are funny things.  They can either be really good or really really bad.  Sometimes they’re something in between. A bit humph.

“Let’s do an event!” the client proclaims, triumphant at even the thought of it.  This is usually where I take a big deep breath – and hold it for a very long time.  It’s a bit like being a party pooper.  You don’t want to rain on anybody’s fire-works but at the same time, if you’re going to organise a party, it’d better be a bloody good one – or else!

The thing about events is that you have to have all your aces in the right places.  They need to be well thought-out.  Gone are the days when you could throw on a good spread at a fancy restaurant and splash around some top-notch champagne, and everyone would turn up.  Yup, those days are G.O.N.E. 

Fact is that media are too busy holding down their jobs and meeting deadlines to afford the time to leave their desks to hot-foot it to a launch party – unless it’s dead good.

At Bay PR, we do dead good launches but we ask clients who dare to ask for a launch, some tricky questions.  These are usually along the lines of:

1.     Do you need to spend the money or can it be executed a different way? 

Venues, food, AV, booze, speakers, transport, photography = money.  Usually quite a lot of money.  That money could be put into a stand-out media kit or tricky teaser that grabs media attention without them leaving their desks.  Sometimes, that can be enough.

2.     Is your product/story good enough to warrant an event? 

Sorry to say, that but marketers can often get so caught up with their own hype, they can’t see the woods for the trees.  It’s our job to show the way.  Is your new widget really a news story?  Is the news editor of the Sydney Morning Herald going to want to come along and see it in person?  Is it even news?  Who else is doing it?  Are you doing it better or differently?  Is it life-changing?  Or is everybody just getting a bit carried away? 

3.     What do you want to achieve out of your event? 

Is it media coverage?  Is it attendance?  Is it the feel-good factor, getting across the personality of the brand?  Is it even networking?  If you know what you want to achieve, then it makes it easier to work out the party plan and also be happy with the outcome.  Many clients are chuffed when media show up to an event but don’t understand why it didn’t get coverage.  As we say in the PR game – “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink – however good the champagne!”  If you have a good PR agency on-board, they will guide you in your decision-making and goal-setting so everybody gets a pat on the back when the last guest leaves.

4.     Location location. 

I once had a client who wanted to launch a new oven.  Trouble was, the factory was BB (beyond Balmain), which in any journo’s books is a complete no no.  What did we do?  Booked helicopter flights.  And guess what?  We had a full house.  In fact, we had to turn B-listers away (sorry journo friends – we love you all!)  Getting to and from launches is a fundamental practicality that needs to be factored into every good launch plan.  Ergo boats.  Boats, unless you are launching one, or have A list celebs, can be a VBD (very bad idea) in terms of attracting media.  The fear of being trapped on a boat when you’ve got your story and you’re clutching your goody bag ready to go and can’t get off – that’s the stuff of nightmares for most journos.

5.     Spokespeople. 

Who are you going to get to represent your company?  Be honest – if the MD is charismatic, engaging and a whizz on the microphone, then by all means, wheel him out.  If, however, as I have seen many times, he is a bit on the boring side and lacks a bit of pizzazz, then leave him to sip his champagne and pull in somebody else.   Often politics can get in the way of a good speech (nobody wants to upset the boss) but if he/she wants to put the best foot forward for the business, then go for the right person.  I have seen some fantastic speakers that have come from HR, marketing and sales that have been given the chance to strut their stuff on the stage and trust me, it works in favour of the company in the end.

6.     Music. 

It sounds really obvious but make sure you choose the right music for the evening that expresses the mood you are aiming to achieve. The power of choosing the right background music can never be underestimated.  Get it wrong and guests will run for cover, but get it right and it can help create ambiance and add to the memory of a successful event.  It pays to test the sound system out first and allocate someone to the job.  That way, when the speeches have finished and the last clap dies down, you have the music back on cue to take you onto the next stage of the party with no awkward silences.  And check the volume too to get it just right to be comfortable but not too loud that guests can’t hear themselves think.

We hope your next event goes swimmingly and if you have any questions or need assistance – give us a holler and we’ll happily help you out!

Are you ready for PR?


Ready for PR?  Make sure you do your homework before you sign.

So you’ve got some loose change in the marketing budget and everybody agrees it’s time to do some PR.  Before you start the process of choosing an agency that’s right for you, it’s worth taking the time to make sure you’re ready.

Here’s a checklist to help get you started:

1.         Images

Do you have a good selection of images of the product, person or service you want to promote?  Media require hi res deep-etched images of 300 dpi, at least 1mg.  If you don’t have a good image selection, then budget for a photographer before you start.  Your PR agency can brief the photographer and advise on the shots required.


2.         Spokespeople

Who is going to represent your company or product to the media?  It can be one person or more and who says what can depend on the subject.  Lifestyle media for example would prefer to speak to a designer or buyer, whereas business journalists will want to speak to the MD. 


3.         Media Training

Once you’ve allocated your corporate/product spokespeople then take the time to consider carefully how they will front up in an interview.  Interviews take many forms, either on the ‘phone or face–to-face, or in front of a camera.

Without media training, and correct preparation, you leave your company wide open to the probing eyes.  What you say, or your employees say can affect your reputation either way.  Even when you have nothing to hide and a fantastic story to tell, you want to make sure you tell it in the best way possible way to maximise your returns.  Many clients who have experienced media training at the hands of a professional will carry the experience through their careers.  The investment is worth it.  Confidence is priceless.


4.         Website and Online Presence

Often I am approached by companies to manage their PR, or provide recommendations to them.  The first place I go for information is their website.  Journalists do this too.  So many times I have seen websites that do not represent the company well.  Before you launch your PR campaign, make sure your website reflects who you are, gives relevant up-to-date information about your products or services and also provides an image bank for media to see your products showcased in their best light.


5.         Customer Service

It may sound basic to say this, but often companies want to start PR without being prepared on the front desk.  Well-placed editorial about your product or services can prompt a spike in telephone calls and Internet enquires.  Make sure your customer service team is in place to accept calls and that all lines of communication are open to maximise the PR opportunity.


6.         Reporting and Approvals

Once the PR agency is on board, they need to have a day-to-day contact to liaise with.  Decisions will need to be made on the company’s behalf and sign-off will be required on media materials, printed items and other activities.  It’s worth remembering the old adage ‘too many cooks...’  It’s quicker, more effective and efficient to appoint one person to manage the agency day-to-day.           


7.         Interviews and Deadlines

The media work to deadlines.  If your PR agency phones with an interview opportunity, it’s likely they have worked hard to get it.  That’s what you’re paying them for. Most print journalists will schedule in an interview time that works for both of you.  TV and Radio journalists are less able to be so flexible.  Whatever type of media, deadlines rule.  If you appoint an agency, try and be flexible when it comes to interviews, as the media won’t wait.