The two skills you don’t think about when choosing a PR agency

Posted by Sara Hawthorn
how to find a PR agency

I’ve been in a lot of pitch meetings, laboured over countless pitch presentations, carefully calculated PR budgets, answered questions about target media, tactics, desired outcomes, but not once in any meeting with a potential client have I been asked about two vital skills that my team and I use on a daily basis which can really make a difference to the quality of service a PR agency provides

There are lots of blogs out there on how to choose a PR agency, I’m not going to add to that pile here, but I do want to explore why I think these two skills are worthy of including on your PR agency wish list so you can make up your own mind on their value to your overall business objectives.

The first skill is the ability to listen

As a deaf person, listening is something I’m all too familiar with. Listening is active. It’s a concentrated effort to engage with something outside of your own self. When we listen properly we learn – even if it’s just a small nugget that sticks with us like a fact, quote or statistic.

Why is listening a valuable skill in PR?

When we apply the value of listening to public relations, what we’re talking about isn’t a Facebook-like monitoring of messages, but employing emotional intelligence to pay attention to what’s relevant to the people who matter to your business. By listening we get a feel for what’s right and what isn’t, what could potentially be an issue and what could be a great success.

We read between the lines, pick out what’s not being said, what’s being implied and use that information to make smarter decisions about the communications we send out for our clients. The terms ‘genuine’ and ‘human’ are definitely on the buzzword bingo card, but they are must-have traits for a business which wants to have a successful and lasting relationship with its publics. Listening is a big factor in becoming (not just being perceived as) that type of company.

On to skill number two: ability to see the big picture

How often have you seen a brand crash for a poor taste tweet, an ill-though out stunt, or an insensitive advert? It’s because they failed to pay attention to the bigger picture or listen to what’s going on outside their own brand bubble (did I mention the two skills are linked?). In technical PR and trade PR understanding the bigger industry picture and how it relates to the work we do is a daily task.

Although we send out communications into the world, the process of gathering PR stories could be regarded as inward looking; focusing on the activity within the business, managing day-to-day PR needs, and the overall goals of the client.

Now you know about these two skills will you add them to your agency wish list?

At InFusion we take a macro view. Like standing above a jigsaw looking at where the piece in your hand is meant to fit in the overall picture we look at trends, legislation changes, government documents and industry publications to establish what topics, angles and areas align with our clients’ stories and objectives.

It means our pitches are relevant to editors, useful and informative to audiences and achieve our goal of strategic client positioning. Of course, our specialist knowledge helps with that too, but that’s a separate blog which you can read here.

Knowing whether your preferred agency understands the importance taking the time to look at the big industry picture and listening to what’s being said on key topics is a worthy consideration for any business ready to work with a trade PR agency. If you’re already working with an agency it should be evident in the ideas they present, they feature topics they suggest or the website content they write for you.