How Ad Agency PR Can Generate New Business

Having worked in corporation communications, journalism and for advertising & PR agencies in Chicago and Nashville, I’ve had the opportunity to see public relations in action from a variety of perspectives. It’s been my experience that a lot of agencies like to use public relations tactics to create awareness, but few use PR as a strategic tool for new business.

Helping agencies harness the power of PR and use it strategically for new business has been an interest of mine for several years. I’ve shared my thoughts in a variety of forums about ways in which ad agencies can develop a PR plan that not only generates awareness, but also compliments their new business initiatives and enhances new business opportunities.

Several months ago, I was honored when a representative from HubSpot contacted me to ask if I would be interested in being part of the company’s Agency Expert Webinar Series.

HubSpot is a developer and marketer of software products for inbound marketing and sales, with 34,000 customers in 90 countries and 3,400 agency partners.

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 My September 13 webinar discussed the building blocks of creating a performance-based public relations plan for an agency. It also explained how the strategic use of PR can enhance awareness and credibility; distinguish an agency from its competitors; and make it easier for decision makers to find agencies that have expertise in the area they are seeking.

Here’s the link to my session about “How to Craft an Agency PR Plan that Will Drive New Business.” I appreciate HubSpot giving me the opportunity to be part of this series.

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5 Tips for Creating an Effective Ad Agency Video for New Business

This guest post is by Senior Content Developer Helen Clark. She has been an avid blogger for 10 years, with special interests in videography and creative editing. Helen has contributed articles and blogs to top videography and editing-related sites. She can be reached at hc061685@gmail.com.

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The initial wave of marketing is of immense importance for a new business. In order to keep the business running, it is necessary that you have new projects coming in, and that won’t be possible unless you put yourself on the map.

However, a potential problem with making your first video ad might be funding. When a business is young, there are usually no significant funds that can be directed this way. This is why you should learn about what makes a video effective, so you can cost-effectively achieve the desired effect.

Make First Seconds Really Count

The first few seconds will either make your viewers interested in what you have to say or drive them from your brand. An average viewer won’t waste much time watching a video of an unfamiliar brand, so be sure to make the beginning of your video effective by turning to controversy or humor, for example.

Accent the Highlights of Your Brand

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In order to attract a bigger audience, you need to focus on strengthening your brand name. A video like this needs to emphasize what your brand stands for and what your business is about. Therefore, make sure to clarify this and have in mind that your logo needs to be incorporated as well.

Keep Your Video Brief

As previously mentioned, an average viewer won’t be very enthusiastic to watch a couple of minutes of an advertising video. You should set an upper limit – your video shouldn’t be longer than thirty seconds. So, no matter what kind of marketing method you’re trying to apply, keeping it brief needs to be your priority.

Mind the Language

Not only does the length of your video need to be short, but you should also make sure that what you have to say is to the point. Every word you plan on incorporating in your video needs to be clear so that there is no room for misunderstandings – after all, you only have up to thirty seconds to say what you want.

You need to be very careful when it comes to your choice of vocabulary. Most new businesses sound pretentious in their first ads, and this is because of one reason – they use complicated words for the purpose of proving themselves and their expertise. So, the language you use needs to be transparently simple, because you have bigger chances of landing customers if you show your office as a down-to-earth team made up of attentive professionals.

Wrap Up Your Video Advertisement

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Perhaps filming the actual footage may not be a problem — even amateur videos have their charm. However, you must not allow your agency to be perceived as amateurish. The success of your first ads, and the future of you agency in this case, will depend on your video-editing skills.

If this is not something you have experience with, my suggestion is not to lose any time or effort trying to edit your video by yourself. As a businessperson, I’m sure you’re aware of how important packaging is — which is why you should go with someone who provides professional video editing services like the Video Caddy company. 

This definitely isn’t a risk you should take.

With all of this in mind, I think you’re ready to make your first ad. Make sure to develop a concept first and come up with a strategy so that you don’t waste any time on this project. After all — you have an agency to develop.

 

 

 

HubSpot Webinar Will Focus on Ad Agency PR Planning for New Business

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On Wednesday, September 13 at 10 a.m. CT/11 a.m. ET, I’ll be presenting a webinar titled, “How to Craft an Agency PR Plan that Drives New Business” as part of HubSpot’s 2017 Agency Expert Webinar Series.

My session will include an overview of:

  • Why PR is important to an agency’s new business efforts
  • Seven significant PR trends
  • Ten foundational principles for working with the news media and bloggers

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I’ll also cover:

  • The quickest way to increase awareness and gain credibility
  • How to get the attention of decision makers
  • The most important aspects of a successful agency PR plan
  • Key questions to ask when putting together your plan
  • What your plan should include
  • Nine PR tools for new business that are either free or very cost effective
  • Three strategies for using PR to boost new business development

Use this link to register: https://offers.hubspot.com/agency-expert-webinar-series

 

For Ad Agency PR Success, Avoid These Mistakes When Writing a News Release

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One of the most important roles of ad agency PR is to disseminate agency news to reporters and bloggers. There are, however, some pitfalls to avoid when seeking publicity, especially when it comes to writing a news release. Here are four mistakes journalists often gripe about when receiving releases from agencies and other sources:

1. Attempting to disguise advertising to make it look like a news story. One of my more memorable academic experiences was the day a college professor returned a paper I submitted with “SJ” at the top instead of a grade. When I asked what SJ meant, he replied “snow job.” Trying to put one over my professor didn’t work in college, and it rarely, if ever, works with reporters. A news release needs to be about news, and it should be written objectively using Associated Press style. Write the release with third-person pronouns and the active rather than passive voice (e.g. John shot Mary, not Mary was shot by John).

2. Stating things that are subjective and opinion-based as facts. If you want to include a statement that involves an opinion or judgment, turn it into a quote and attribute the statement to someone. Otherwise, stick to the facts and let them stand on their own merit.

3. Using puffery and exaggerated descriptions of people, events, products or servicesfollowed by lots of exclamation marks!!!!!! Nothing screams amateur quite like that. Ditto for platitudes and vague generalities. Be as concise as possible. Mark Twain said he would have written a shorter letter, but he didn’t have time to do so. It usually takes longer to write short, concise copy than long copy, but journalism is all about being succinct and to the point. Don’t fall in Twain’s trap; less is more in a news release.

4. Failing to be relevant to a reporter’s area of coverage. You may have some great news to share, but if you haven’t invested the time to understand a reporter’s beat, audience and interests, you may very well reach the wrong person. There are times when a considerate reporter will email you back and say that he/she has forwarded your release to someone else who might be interested, but don’t count on that happening. It’s far better to take the time to make sure you reach the right person the first time.

If you learn to think and write like a journalist, and understand their criteria for judging the value of news, you’ll have a much easier time getting them to pay attention to your releases and take you seriously as a useful source. And that will improve your chances of getting publicity for your agency and your firm’s clients.

photo credit: Steve Rhodes via photopin cc

 

Inaccurate Story? It May Not Be the Reporter’s Fault

Last week an online news site did a story that mentioned one of my clients. Unfortunately, there was a major error in it. When I talked with the reporter about the inaccurate information, he quickly corrected it and explained that the error occurred during the editing process. Of course, since the article had his byline, people assumed it was his fault. I can relate to his dilemma.

During my time as a correspondent for a daily paper, I vividly remember one occasion where I fell victim to the editorial process. I was covering a local meeting of city officials and took great care to accurately report what took place during the meeting and the outcome.

The next day, I picked up the paper and saw my story had been changed to state the exact opposite of what I wrote about the officials’ decision on a particular matter.

I immediately called my editor, explained the error to him and said I didn’t understand how what I wrote could have been revised so drastically.

“I changed it because I could tell they were just BSing around,” he said nonchalantly.

 “Well, we’re going to have some problems with this article,” I replied, somewhat stunned by his cavalier attitude. He shrugged it off as no big deal. And to him, it may not have been, but it sure was to me.

My name was on the article, and it wasn’t accurate. In fact, it was the exact opposite of the truth. Would people who were at that meeting ever trust me again, I wondered.

Headlines can burn a reporter (and client) as well. Once a story is turned in for editing, a person other than the reporter writes headlines to make them fit within certain parameters while also using a handful of words to attract attention and give readers the gist of the story. There’s quite an art to headline writing, and sometimes under the pressure of deadlines, mistakes are made. Sometimes big ones.

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Early in my career I worked for a nonprofit organization in Southern California that owned some property where the organization was planning to build a facility. Things didn’t go as planned, and the property went into foreclosure. The reporter from our local paper, who I knew pretty well, did an article about it and accurately reported what had transpired.

The headline, however, declared our entire organization—which employed thousands of people—as being in foreclosure. It all got straightened out and corrected, but not before causing lots of excitement for us from panicked vendors, employees, community leaders and other Los Angeles-area news media outlets.

Certainly there are times when the reporter is at fault for inaccuracies, and all too often news stories seem to be slanted to fit a particular agenda. There also are times when a PR representative provides the reporter with incorrect information or misstates something that comes back to haunt the organization when the misinformation shows up in print or on air.

The moral of these stories is this: If you are charged with handling ad agency PR and find yourself needing to contact a reporter for a correction, give him or her the benefit of the doubt. Be careful not to overreact or arrive at conclusions before gathering all the facts, and keep in mind that it may have been an honest mistake or misunderstanding.

Finding out how a mistake was made and who is at fault is less important than getting it correctly promptly. Always keep the long-term in mind, because how you handle errors with a reporter can make or break the relationship—and affect how your client or agency is covered—for years to come.

photo credit: Mistakes Home Sellers Make via photopin (license)

How Ad Agency PR Can Help Clients Manage Change

 “There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.”Niccolo Machiavelli

Many attempts at organizational change either flounder or fail outright, and often the culprit is a lack of effective communication. In the absence of clear communication from leadership, rumors and speculation begin to take on a life of their own, usually to the detriment of the organization and the performance of its employees.

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“Withholding information during the phases of radical change could easily be one of the worst mistakes in managing changes,” notes Rita Linjuan Men, Ph.D., APR, an assistant professor of public relations at the University of Florida and research editor for the Institute for Public Relations’ Organizational Communication Research Center.

Ad agency PR can lead the charge on behalf of clients undergoing change by:

  • Filling gaps with knowledge
  • Negating rumors with truth
  • Communicating clearly, effectively and transparently
  • Initiating and responding to feedback
  • Being sensitive and emphatic not just to what is said, but also how the message is conveyed

To work as intended, the process has to be more than just delivering information.

“Leaders must see communication as a dialogue. When employees feel they’re being relentlessly sold a message, they tend to resist. Who wouldn’t? But dialogue is different; being listened to is powerful and long lasting. It builds influence over time, driving adoption and alignment,” says Sherry Scott, president of Gagen McDonald, a consulting firm that specializes engagement, leadership and culture change.

Another way public relations specialists can help clients manage change is by mining data to unlock perceptions, preferences and concerns—giving clients a better understanding of their customers, stakeholders, prospects and other important groups.

PR can be especially useful during periods of change when it comes to creating an effective communications strategy; crafting appropriate messages; anticipating questions and concerns; and identifying the best methods of reaching the target audiences.

Timeliness is critical, which is where PR shines brightest. Whether connecting with a reporter on deadline, responding to an irate customer using social media to vent his or her displeasure, dialoguing with concerned stakeholders or dealing with an actual or impending crisis, reacting responsibly with speed and transparency has long been a forte of the PR profession.

Navigating change can be a daunting task for companies, but having clear two-way communication throughout the process will greatly improve the odds for success.

photo credit: symphony of love Author Unknown If you are not willing to change, then don’t expect your life to via photopin (license)

Sept. 13 Session in HubSpot’s Agency Expert Webinar Series Will Focus on Using Ad Agency PR to Drive New Business

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HubSpot’s Agency Expert Webinar Series is an excellent opportunity for agency professionals to learn more about trends and strategies for successful agency growth. In live, hour-long YouTube sessions, industry leaders share their insights on topics ranging from agency growth and winning more pitches, to finding new talent and gaining a better understanding of client behavior.

Viewers can join the conversation, submit questions for presenters in real-time and follow along and connect with other viewers via Twitter at @HubSpotAgencies and #AgencyExpertSeries.

Michael Gass, founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, set the bar high when he kicked off the series with “Three Things a New Business Director Needs for Success.”

I’m honored to have been asked to be part of the series, and will focus my time on discussing how to build an effective agency public relations plan that will drive new business.

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My Sept. 13 session will walk through the building blocks of creating a performance-based PR plan for your agency. It will explain how the strategic use of PR can enhance awareness and credibility; distinguish your agency from competitors; and make it easier for decision makers to find you.

Key takeaways:

  • What PR can do for your agency that no other marketing tool can replicate
  • How a small or mid-sized agency’s strategic use of PR can level the playing field with larger competitors
  • What your agency’s PR plan should include
  • How to integrate PR into your new business development strategy
  • Cost-effective resources that can help you generate publicity
  • Why not having PR capabilities may cause your agency to miss out on new business opportunities