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How to adopt a results-based approach

How to adopt a results-based approach

By Jason Kelly from Blah Blah PR

The public relations industry has seen many changes over the years, but none more significant then the results-based philosophy being adopted throughout the industry.

A new breed of pr agency has sprung up pushing aside traditional pr agencies, boasting results-based services under the banner of performance-led delivery.

Gone are the ‘bad old days’ when public relations agencies would request large fees to represent a client, to then simply send out a press release en masse to see what happens. Or arrange a booze up at the expense of a client, under banner of corporate hospitality.

Now, however, the public relations industry has had to adapt in order to not only re-establish its own reputation as a useable service, but also to show that the art or science of public relations can actually support modern-day business operations.

Indeed, the success of incorporating this philosophy has been so immense, that virtually all public relations agencies now promote the term ‘results-driven’ in their own external communications.

Although the public relations is a separate function to that of the marketing industry, although some would say public relations is a marketing tool (not true), marketing agencies need to consider the principles and practices that have been adopted by the public relations industry.

The business offering of some marketing agencies, such as Millennium, already understand and operate within the guidelines of results-based and performance-led, which has led them to establish long-term business relationships with their clients.

Some critics would say you can’t set a results-based approach to all areas of marketing, because of the industry’s diversity. But the public relations profession is not just about sending out press releases.

It’s has numerous tricks – not just media relations – to introduce, maintain and protect corporate reputations. Besides which, if something is worth doing then surely it’s worth doing right. Plus, how can agencies expect to form long-term relationship with their clients if they don’t actually support their clients’ bottom-line?

The move towards setting pre-agreed objectives has already taken hold in the public relations industry, and this ideology has already helped to reflect the term ‘public relations’ as a must have weapon in any corporate armoury and not an expensive way of wasting money.

So if the public relations industry can do it, surely the marketing sector must see a need to follow and introduce an end-game that reflects the needs of the client – surely?

Any part of the marketing mix, including creative and planning can adopt a results-based approach. And although it can be difficult to be precise in some cases, clients can be made aware of what the expected outcome should be, how this will be achieved and what will happen if particular objectives do not materialise.

A prime example of how the public relations industry has implemented results-based planning is to look at how Blah Blah pr delivers results. At the start of every new client relationship an agreement is produced by Blah Blah pr stating clearly what the agreed objectives are and when these should be achieved.

At the end of the agreed time-frame if we have not delivered on those objectives then we continue to represent the client without additional cost until those milestones have been met.

The client is happy because they know what they are getting for their budget and the team at Blah Blah pr are happy because this process ensures they known what needs to be achieved, and by when – keeping the team completely client-focused.

This method is also an excellent way of maintaining long-term client relationships. Plus, even in an uncertain economic climate, the client understands the benefits of public relations and how results-based PR can support the business during market slowdowns.

Competitive pressures within the marketing and communications industries are fierce. The day’s when reputations won new accounts are virtually non-existent. Now agencies need to be price competitive and be able to demonstrate results.

In relation to Blah Blah pr, although we are a newly-launched agency, the way we deliver results has allowed us to not only open doors to be included on pitches, but it helps us to win business. 

In effect, a results-based approach is a way of allowing clients to clearly understand the end-game, and a way of reinforcing an agency’s reputation of delivering positive outcomes to meet their clients’ needs.

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