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Trade Secrets Your Agency Isn't Sharing

If you have never worked in a PR agency, their doings can seem mysterious. How does the agency get all of that coverage for their clients? Is it because of exclusive relationships with publications? Is it because they meet reporters for drinks or play golf together? What is the black magic that commands such high retainers? If you haven't been inside an agency, and your company expects you to hire and manage one, it can be intimidating. Agencies prefer to adopt a mystique about how they work because they think that keeping you in the dark will give them the upper hand in negotiations. However, the more you know about agency operations, the better results you achieve for your company and the more value you extract from your agency. In this session, we'll review models of agency operations and discuss the factors you need to know when engaging an agency.
We'll discuss:
Comparing apples to apples: how to compare agencies during the dreaded RFP process
How to see through the bull@#*%: Relationships don't mean a thing if they don't know how to tell your story
How to avoid the bait and switch: meet your team—not just the sales team—during the hiring process
How to negotiate guaranteed results into your agency agreement
How to save time and money—dictate how your hours should and shouldn't be spent in a retainer relationship
How to set yourself up for success: what you need to do to educate your new partner

This presentation was given at Ragan's 7th Annual Employee Communications, PR & Social Media Summit at Microsoft on October 28th, 2015

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Trade Secrets Your Agency Isn't Sharing

  1. 1. TRADE SECRETS YOUR AGENCY ISN’T SHARING: How to get the most our of your agency relationships Sandra Fathi President, Affect @sandrafathi sfathi@affect.com Presented at the 7th Annual Employee Communications, PR & Social Media Summit by Ragan Communications October 28, 2015
  2. 2. Sandra Fathi •  President of Affect •  Director, PRSA-NY •  Director, PR Council •  Experience: o Founded Affect o 15+ Years at Agencies o In-house Marketing for Start-ups & Established Brands o Tech reporter for IDG & Ziff Davis @sandrafathi sfathi@affect.com
  3. 3. Agenda I.  Choosing the right agency: from RFP to in-person pitch II.  Avoiding the bait and switch III.  Negotiating guaranteed results into your contract IV.  Developing a highly productive and efficient agency partner V.  Testing for industry knowledge, creativity and writing VI.  Setting metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs)
  4. 4. Basic Agency Structures: Hierarchy CEO/ President VP Director Supervisor Sr. Acct Exec Acct Exec Acct Coordinator Acct Coordinator Acct Exec Acct Coordinator Acct Coordinator Director Supervisor Sr. Acct Exec Acct Exec Acct Coordinator Acct Coordinator Acct Exec Acct Coordinator Acct Coordinator VP Director Supervisor Sr. Acct Exec Acct Exec Acct Coordinator Acct Coordinator Acct Exec Acct Coordinator Acct Coordinator Director Supervisor Sr. Acct Exec Acct Exec Acct Coordinator Acct Coordinator Acct Exec Acct Coordinator Acct Coordinator
  5. 5. Basic Agency Structures: Teams CEO VP Account Team VP Account Team VP Account Team
  6. 6. Operational Concepts •  Hours – Baseline and time tracking •  Billing Rates – Per Professional or Blended •  Utilization Rates - % of Time Assigned Per Person •  Billability – Percent of Time that is Billable Per Person •  Revenue Per Employee •  Profitability by Client •  Minimum Monthly Fee •  Turnover – Industry Average is 27-30%
  7. 7. I. Choosing the Right Agency •  Be an Educated Consumer o  Understand the industry landscape o  Use resources such as the PR Council, PR Week, O’Dwyer’s to find reputable agencies o  Research their website for areas of focus, experience, conflicts etc. o  Test their responsiveness •  Size Matters o  Big fish vs. little fish o  Local, national or global o  Specialist or Generalist •  It’s Not All About the Relationship
  8. 8. I. Choosing the Right Agency (Cont.) •  Price is Right o  Realistic about your own budget o  Agency minimums o  How do they price – hours vs. value •  Who’s on My Team? o  Meeting the day-to-day account team, not just agency leadership o  Would you hire these people? •  Old School or Entrepreneurial o  Original, new, creative approach or tried and true formula o  Using latest technology and tools o  Up to date on social media, marketing or other needs
  9. 9. RFP Best Practices •  Narrow the Field– Vet the agencies before inviting them to the RFP •  Less is More – Focus on what’s important in terms of evaluation criteria •  Invest in Education – Give agencies a deep dive before they respond •  Provide Clear Instructions – How to respond, how long the response should be and an exact time frame •  Show Me the Money – Provide budget guidelines and ask about pricing structure (hourly vs. value-based) and what is/isn’t included •  Test the Waters – Include a requirement to show creative thinking, ideation and/or a real-world scenario •  Measure Up – Ask for estimated results or definition of success
  10. 10. Philosophy, Strategy & Tactics Company News Company Profiles Content Marketing Data Discovery Bylines Executive Profiles Story Hijacking Industry Reports Trend Intervention Editorial Calendars
  11. 11. II. Avoiding the Bait & Switch •  In the Pitch, You Get the A-Team - The agency wants to win •  Day-to-Day - Who will work on your account? o  What is their experience? o  Do they understand your product/service/industry? o  Do you trust them to represent your company? •  Get the Details – How the agency runs accounts, samples of writing, wins and losses •  Get a Reference – From one or more current clients, on the work and the individual team members
  12. 12. II. Avoiding the Bait & Switch (Cont.) •  Get Personal – Spend time getting to know team members (this is a major investment) •  Time with the Company – Is this a long-term trusted employee? •  Communicate Your Needs & Expectations – Make sure you articulate what you want from team members
  13. 13. III. Negotiating Results in Your Contract •  It’s Not Advertising – No guaranteed placements, but you can set targets •  It’s Not All Under Control – The news media, your company, your product and the market all have an impact •  Create Incentives – Bonus structures, a system of rewards for meeting milestones (carrots – not sticks) •  Clear Deliverables – What are the finite deliverables you expect? Include a scope of work (SOW) •  Set a Timeline – Understand how long each phase will take and when you’ll see results •  Have an Out – Check the termination clause – and what triggers it
  14. 14. Activities vs. Outcomes vs. Business OutcomesActivity Press Release Case Study Development Media Pitching Outcome 5 Interviews 6 Articles 1 Byline BusinessOutcome Downloads of Software Leads on the Website Sales
  15. 15. IV. Developing a Highly Productive & Efficient Agency Partner What You Can Do: •  Be a Good Client – It’s a long-term relationship •  Give in Order to Get – What you put in is what you get out •  Don’t Forget to Listen – Sometimes the agency does know best •  Ask What’s Working & What’s Not •  Provide Clear Direction •  Trust But Verify •  Communicate Early & Often – Praise as well as dissatisfaction or frustration
  16. 16. IV. Developing a Highly Productive & Efficient Agency Partner What The Agency Must Do: •  Communicate Early & Often – Conduct regular calls and reporting cadence •  Know the Company – Understand the company, products and industry •  Turn on a Dime – When things aren’t working •  Don’t Spend Time on Admin •  Focus on Results-Oriented Work •  Say No – When it’s in your client’s best interest or it goes against your principles
  17. 17. V. Testing for Industry Knowledge, Creativity & Writing •  Ask Specific Questions – Or provide training o  Competitors o  Key Media Outlets o  Key Reporters o  Industry Trends •  Ask the Agency to Write Something Original – Make it part of the RFP/Pitch Process •  Ask to See Pitches to Journalists •  Ask for ‘Big Ideas’ and Brainstorms
  18. 18. VI. Setting Metrics & KPIs 1.  Surveys: Ask and Tally Results 2.  Scores: Create Indices or Scoring Mechanism •  Quantity: sheer volume of media hits •  Quality: weighted value for Tier 1, 2 or 3 or feature vs. mention 3.  Correlations: Outputs, Outcomes and Business Results •  Track PR events against lead generation (online, email, phone etc.) •  Track PR events against web traffic or registrations 4.  Check Boxes: Meeting Specific, Finite Objectives •  Number of articles, press releases, event attendees, registrations, downloads, revenue (dollar value)
  19. 19. Traditional Customer Journey Discover Form Opinion Conviction Consideration Set Purchase
  20. 20. Goals vs. Objectives Goals Objectives Broad Narrow Intangible Tangible Infinite Finite Abstract Concrete Open Ended Bound by Time
  21. 21. Goals vs. Objectives Goals Objectives (Specific & Finite) Raise Awareness Increase Share of Voice by 20% Among Top 5 Competitors in 6 Months Establish Credibility Secure 4 Ongoing Columns in Publications from Our Top Priority List in 2016 Increase Media Coverage Target 50 Articles Per Quarter in Top Tier Outlets Target 8 Broadcast Opportunities in H1 Drive Demand for Services Generate 300 Registrations for Free Trials in Next 4 Months
  22. 22. Social Media Customer Journey Positional Measures Relational Measures Commercial Measures # of Likes # of Followers # of Subscribers # of Shares # of Retweets # of Clicks # of Leads $ Revenue Earned $ Costs Saved
  23. 23. Summary •  Understand what you are buying •  Get to know your partner •  Agree on definition of ‘success’ •  Work as a team - service vs. commodity •  Be willing to self-examine •  Communicate •  Know when to move on
  24. 24. Keep in Touch Slides Available: www.slideshare.net/sfathi Sandra Fathi President, Affect Email: sfathi@affect.com tweet: @sandrafathi web: affect.com blog: techaffect.com

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