Engagements with public relations agencies typically come in two forms – short-term projects and monthly retainers. While projects can be a great opportunity for new businesses to dip their toe in the PR water, their finite scope and tight timeline often necessitate a primary focus on tactics. Public relations retainers, on the other hand, are longer-term programs that allow companies and causes to maintain a consistent presence in the media and proactively enhance their expert positioning in the market place. While projects can be the right fit at the right time, there are many benefits to PR retainers that warrant deeper exploration:
Taking a strategic approach
An ongoing public relations program allows businesses and nonprofits to invest in implementing a media- and community-relations strategy that is aligned with their overall organizational goals. Strategic PR programs ensure all activities implemented are helping to achieve a common set of goals. Setting a PR strategy in place at the onset also allows organizations to integrate public relations with other marketing activities and set metrics for performance in the context of an integrated marketing communications program.
Ensuring consistency of message and voice
Public relations strategies often include an agreed upon set of key message points for effectively talking about an organization. Messaging includes both general umbrella message points that apply to all audiences as well as more tailored message points for specific audiences, including media. Ensuring consistency across all messaging helps to reinforce an organization’s position in the market and can help to increase cohesion across locations, divisions and spokespersons.
Maintaining a pulse on the media’s radar
A public relations retainer allows businesses and nonprofits to maintain a consistent presence on the media’s radar. By distributing news items on at least a monthly basis, companies and causes alike have the opportunity to showcase the diverse facets of their organizations. An added benefit, an ongoing public relations program also provides organizations with a steady stream of fresh content to populate their social media marketing channels and provides additional fodder for e-newsletters. This is especially great news for organizations who blog as HubSpot reports among companies who do email marketing, those who also blog generate twice as much website traffic from their email marketing.
Staying ahead of the curve
Just as marketing can be proactive or reactive, so can PR. With a public relations retainer agreement in place, companies and causes can maintain a proactive approach to public relations. This includes being the early bird for pitching timely stories and ensuring spokespersons are available to comment on upcoming legislation, etc.
If you’ve ever been less than a week out from opening a new facility or launching a new program only to realize you don’t have a PR plan in place for the occasion, you understand the value of a proactive approach. Remember, planning ahead is what allows your organization to ensure a consistent editorial presence in the media and build important relationships with key media.
Seizing timely opportunities
As noted above, an ongoing public relations program allows you to plan for everything from National Puppy Day to National Ice Cream Day and everything in between. Having ongoing PR counsel in place also allows you to adapt your program to seize timely opportunities. For example, think back to Superstorm Sandy and how valuable emergency response professionals were to the media and their audiences as sources of expert counsel during prolonged power outages, flooding and evacuations.
Public relations programs play an important role in an organization’s overall marketing toolkit. They position companies as thought leaders, showcase the impact of causes, ensure stakeholders understand both who you are and what you do, and the list goes on.