PR agency, if you do not have regular contact with the CEO of your client company, then they do not see your value. It really is that simple.
If you were to ask that CEO what they think you do, what would they say? The role of an agency for senior management is to be a thought partner to the organisation, a sounding board on how to handle and frame current and potential issues (both negative and positive). Frankly, not many agencies can unabatedly say that about themselves.
Know the business
How well do you know your client's business - I mean really know it? Precisely how its operations work, its HR policies and detailed growth strategy. It is only when you know this information that you can begin to add value to the entire business and give sound advice and guidance to organisation wide issues. Someone I know who works in a UK based multinational, once told me that the company's UK PR agency knew the company better than she did, although she's worked there for three years. How do our South African agencies fare?
As an agency who knows its client well, you are the glass door between the organisation's internal and external environment. This puts you in a position to see things internal stakeholders cannot immediately see, and affords the opportunity for proactivity. Let us not be receivers of briefs but make informed suggestions underpinned by a thorough understanding of the business, its issues and strategy.
Deliver return on objectives
Your true value will be demonstrated, like all other departments in a business, by how well your strategy and tactics support the businesses' objectives. Yes PR and communication has a long term focus and cannot be measured like sales for example, but the communications objectives have to be one to one, matched to the overall business objectives. Otherwise people outside of the communications department, people will think your job is to check grammar, host parties and make posters.
The CEO will not likely be impressed with the R50million worth of coverage you've generated. Your value to them will be how you assist the business manage issues, identify opportunities and mitigate risk.
Mbali Ndandani is a communications professional with experience in brand, corporate, sponsorship and CSI communications with clients such as Hyundai, Kagiso Trust, Castrol and MTN. Contact Mbali on or follow @MbaliNdandani on Twitter.
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