1. Be clear about what you want

You cannot expect a PR agency to deliver a successful campaign unless you spell out what success means to your organisation.  Ask yourself what you want to achieve from your investment in external PR support and write a clear brief with tangible objectives.

  1. Be realistic

A PR agency can help your organisation present its best face to the outside world but it can’t turn water into wine.   Good PR agencies will be honest about what they think they can achieve for you based on your budget and the nature of your organisation.  Conversely, beware of agencies that promise the earth.

  1. Be responsive

When you take on a PR agency you are entering into a relationship, so it’s essential to keep a dialogue going.  Your agency will take the initiative – sending you ideas for campaigns, press releases to approve, interview opportunities and quotes to sign off, but unless you have given them free rein they will need your input and approval before acting on your behalf.   If you don’t respond to their requests they will find it difficult to work effectively for you.

  1. Share the full story

Your PR agency will not be able create and execute an effective communications campaign if they only have half the story.  Disclose as much information as you can – even if you don’t think it’s relevant – so that potential pitfalls can be anticipated and managed.

  1. Be prepared to respond quickly

Often the thing that gets you rather than your competitor into a national newspaper is because your PR agency has got in first.  So if they send you a quote to approve with an urgent deadline, it’s not because they want to go home early, it’s because they know the early bird catches the proverbial worm.

  1. Give feedback

If you feel that a particular activity isn’t working or could have been executed better, say so.  PR professionals welcome constructive criticism and your feedback will enable them to improve the next activity.  On the flip side, if you are pleased with a particular activity or you’ve had positive feedback as a result, then do share it.

  1. Listen to their advice

You are paying for expert opinion so you might as well listen to it – even if you don’t like it.  Your reputation may be at risk if you choose to ignore the advice of experienced PR professionals.

  1. Pay your invoice on time!

This is especially important if you work with small companies or freelancers as taking three months to pay for services you have already had can really hurt cash flow.  Clients who pay promptly are highly valued and much appreciated.