Conducting PR activities in cooperation with an experienced agency makes it much easier for a company to communicate externally. This principle is particularly important for brands that operate abroad. Every market is different, so entrusting these tasks to experts from the country in question will help avoid a multitude of pitfalls and build a positive brand image. However, in order for this to really happen, it is worth guarding against certain mistakes. Here are 5 mistakes made by companies that, as a Polish PR agency, we see most often.
Table of contents
- Failure to define own expectations
- Expecting immediate results
- Failure to designate persons to contact the agency
- Withholding the truth
- Lack of trust in agency experts’ knowledge
Failure to define own expectations
The first mistake is repeatedly made both at the stage of searching for that perfect Polish PR agency and already during cooperation. For any campaign to be successful, the public relations agency must have a clear picture of the brand, its values, vision, mission and goals – and all these elements must be included in the brief sent to the agency at the search stage. The more you tell them about yourself, the more precisely the agency will understand these needs and, as a result, prepare better proposals for your company. We have written about how to choose the best PR agency in a separate article on our blog.
Another important element of the brief should be a clear set of expectations for the agency. Failure to specify the goals you are setting for the agency is like expecting its representatives to read your mind. Any collaboration with any agency (marketing, PR or social media) must start by setting out these principles. You should therefore inform the agency:
– what the purpose of the collaboration is,
– what the expected scope of cooperation is to be,
– what specific services the agency is to provide and to what extent,
– what you want to achieve by working with the agency,
– after what time you want to see the effects of the agency’s actions (or how long you want a given PR campaign to last).
Of course, it is worthwhile to be open to talking to agency representatives. We ourselves, as PR experts, are often already able to determine at the stage of reading the brief whether the client’s expectations are feasible within the given budget. It is also important to us that the client keeps us informed of any change in the company’s strategy. Remember that the agency operates according to a pre-approved communications plan and, in order for it to adapt it to current variables, it needs to know about these variables.
Expecting immediate results
Although this mistake is strongly linked to the first one, in our opinion it needs to be singled out specifically. This is because it is repeatedly made by foreign brands that are just about to enter the Polish market and contact us with an enquiry about cooperation. There has always been one rule in PR communication – the rule of patience. It is worth being aware of the fact that public relations activities such as networking with the media, building brand awareness among customers, searching for credible ambassadors or even the systematic dispatch of PR articles are a job for at least several months.
Unlike classic advertising on Facebook, for example, the effect of PR will never be visible immediately. While writing an article for the press is a matter of one day’s work for one expert, many elements of the PR machine operate completely independently of us (and, for example, of the publication cycle of a given press title). What is more important in PR than the number of publications or comments is building a relationship with journalists – and the strength of such a relationship is often impossible to measure numerically. Even if you don’t manage to break through with a given message the first time, it is not worth judging the agency’s work negatively. Or at least not at first.
Failure to designate persons to contact the agency
There is hardly anything that disorganises the work of a PR agency more than communication chaos on the client side. Quick and efficient exchange of information is a priority in this industry – especially in crisis situations. And while missed deadlines, failure to answer questions or a lack of initiative on the part of the agency are red flags you should watch out for, it is sometimes worth looking at whether they are due to mistakes made on your side.
The most common of these is the failure to designate one specific person responsible for contacting the agency. Unfortunately, it often happens that several people take on the responsibility of delegating tasks to an agency (often sending completely contradictory messages to the agency!). In such a situation, even the most experienced PR expert will feel lost, and will waste time that could be spent solving the brand’s real problems wondering whose instructions to listen to.
If more than one company employee is to be responsible for the contact (for example, someone in charge of the marketing department), be sure to introduce everyone to the agency representatives and let them know who is responsible for what and what the hierarchy is between the different representatives of your brand. Also let them know who is to be the first contact in case of sudden crises, to whom the agency is to send reports and how many people to include in emails. From our own experience, we know that it is best to arrange systematic video calls. This gives the two parties a great opportunity to get to know each other better and feel each other out.
Withholding the truth
We hope that this point is not in anyone’s doubt, but it was impossible to omit it from this list. Withholding the truth from the Polish public relations experts representing you is the worst sin one can commit – especially when it comes to managing communications in an image crisis. PR experts are best treated as a department within the company, not just someone who performs outsourced services and is not associated with the brand. Always tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. A company in crisis is cornered by the media, and any lie caught can be turned against it.
What is more, if a PR agency knows every ‘blunder’, it is able to prepare in advance for any awkward questions from journalists or unwanted leaks of data to the public. And after all, mistakes are better prevented than cured! A good and experienced public relations agency in Poland has the resources to successfully pull a company out of a crisis or at least mitigate its effects. What’s more, Polish consumers are much quicker to forgive you for mistakes than for covering up a lie.
Lack of confidence in the knowledge of agency experts
During the planning and implementation of a communication strategy, companies sometimes argue with representatives of the agencies that represent them. It’s even worse when employees don’t trust the experts and try to fix their ‘mistakes’ on their own, without informing the agency. Here it is worth reminding yourself of one thing – you are paying the experts to do their job. If you want to do it yourself because you ‘know better’, you’d better give up outsourcing your communication activities. This is a fairly common mistake made by companies that are just entering the Polish market and want to transfer to Poland activities that have worked well for them in other countries.
In the past we have also had to correct mistakes made by a client who thought that… We have also had to correct mistakes made in the past by a client who thought they were correcting mistakes made by us or another PR agency. Here we have one piece of advice: trust that the experts know their job – because they 99.9% know their job better than you do. This is why the stage of choosing an agency is so important. If you decide to go with the first best agency (e.g. on price alone), you will find it difficult to trust them. It is not worth saving on public relations – it is more difficult to repair a lost image than to build a new brand image from scratch.
Have you made any of these mistakes? We will help you reverse it and avoid further ones! We are a Polish PR agency with many years of experience in planning and implementing communication strategies for foreign brands on the Polish market. If you want to start working with experts, contact us and tell us about your business!