Companies are always looking for the best way to stay ahead of the curve and ahead of the competition. This is often done by outsourcing public relations and marketing efforts to a PR firm with expertise in strategic media growth, brand image and reputation management. However, it's essential to understand that PR is a marathon, not a sprint. This is why most reputable PR agencies only work on 6- to 12-month contracts—it allows us enough time to set the stage for media success and watch those plans play out.
So what should you do if you've been working with an excellent or highly commended PR firm for just a few months, yet higher-ups at your company are breathing down your neck for faster results? Should you stick with your well-vetted team, or is it time to jump ship to a firm where the grass seems greener and plentiful in media placements?
I've seen many chief marketing officers and PR directors fall into the trap of PR firm hopping when they feel media placements have dried up, when a summer slump hits or when they're facing extreme pressure from higher-ups for immediate campaign changes. However, hopping from agency to agency can be detrimental to a brand in the long run and dry up media responses and industry respect.
Here are eight reasons why constant PR firm hopping is not the right move.
1. Lack Of Continuity
A responsible PR agency is not only going to learn about you, your products and your services; they also will adopt your voice, become an extension of your team and add layers of value the longer you work together.
Frequent changes in PR representation can lead to inconsistent messaging and strategy
, as different PR firms may have different goals and priorities. This can make it difficult to establish a consistent brand image, which will in turn confuse customers and hinder their ability to understand what your brand stands for.
2. Time And Resource Drain
The age-old adage goes that it's cheaper to keep a client than to find a new one. The same goes for PR agencies. Finding and onboarding a new PR firm can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, taking focus away from core business activities. PR firms are not a low-cost investment, so you shouldn't be squandering that investment over and over again.
3. Knowledge Loss
PR firms need time to gain an in-depth understanding of your brand's values, goals, target audience, and your processes and messaging. They will home in on what works for your brand within the media and what does not, and then they'll adjust to these key indicators. Your PR team will plug into your social media teams to work together and more.
With each PR firm change, knowledge gets lost. Frequent changes can prevent a firm from gaining the knowledge necessary to create a successful campaign.
4. Fragmented Relationships
Building strong relationships with media outlets and influencers takes time and real effort. Switching PR firms frequently can damage these relationships, making it harder to secure media coverage.
Every industry sector has its own key media players. If an editor has a pending story from your current PR firm, or is holding a story or looking for space, it doesn't look good when it comes time for them to run it and you have jumped ship. It not only looks bad for the PR firm and can damage their relationships, but it also looks terrible for your brand, particularly if new media angles are now being emailed to them from a new firm. Media contacts may eventually ignore all contact with your brand's name attached. Too much of a hassle does not a good media source make.
5. Loss Of Trust
Constantly changing PR firms can make a brand appear indecisive and unreliable, eroding trust with the media, C-level executives, investors and stakeholders. They may assume that you do not know what you are doing when searching for or managing your PR efforts.
6. Missed Opportunities
PR firms need time to develop and execute campaigns through media connections, partnerships, awards, influencer campaigns and more. Frequent changes can prevent a firm from realizing the full potential of a campaign, it can halt partnerships and it can quickly deteriorate your reputation as deals hang in the balance.
7. Limited Results
PR campaigns need time to generate results. This is why most PR firms refuse to work month-to-month.
8. Reputation Damage
Inconsistent messaging, fragmented relationships and missed opportunities can all damage a brand's reputation and image. While it may be tempting to switch PR firms in search of quick results, it's important to consider the long-term impact on your brand. You risk burning bridges with the firms you leave behind as well. This can make it challenging to find a new PR firm in the future as your reputation will precede you.
Before Switching Firms, Can You Save The Relationship?
Instead of PR agency hopping, try sitting down and realigning strategy with your current PR team. It should be easy to communicate with expert communicators.
Here are a few steps to take before you consider finding a new firm.
• Be bold in discussing qualms about messaging or anything that does not work for your brand.
• Ask for visibility into daily work via an upcoming strategy outline, regular calls and reporting.
• Ensure that all teams are on the same page for messaging, including your social media, corporate and email marketing teams.
• Refrain from forcing your PR team to change course or strategy often.
• Give your campaign six to 12 months to ensure optimal strategy response and success.
Switching PR agencies every time you feel dissatisfied is not the proper way to manage an extension of your team or any long-term business investment. Make sure you voice your concerns to your agency, and give them time to make changes or strategy shifts to see actual results from your PR campaign.
Original article published on FORBES