How to fame your agency and use PR to get your agency noticed

In June, we wanted PR to be the topic of discussion for The New World of New Biz webinar, delving into how PR can help fame an agency to help them win new business. We covered topics around why you should treat yourself as a client, how to be memorable, why it’s important to use the products/services of your prospects before you pitch, and when is the best time to ask a client to sign off a Press Release.

Street’s Founder Katie Street was joined by PR experts:

Treat yourself like a client

Graham Goodkind, Chairman & Founder at Frank PR, started the discussion by telling the audience how he sold PR agency Frank back in 2007 to an Australian business but has got it back again fully this year after a management buyout, and said “it feels like a start-up even though it’s 21 years old’.

With regards to PR, Graham said “you’ve got to take the ups with the downs because not every story is a great story but that to me is a table stakes for an agency, treat your own agency like it’s a client providing time to planning. Stories that you’re going to do or comments that you’re going to make, enter the awards (as many as you can), put your decent campaigns into awards and keep that profile going and it becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Often the more you’re out there then the more the trade media come to you for comment”. Graham believes this is something every agency should do.

Be relevant and memorable

Graham talked about their methodology called ‘talkability’, they think companies should have a talking point and spoke about how Frank likes to be creative and memorable having a boardroom such a beach, ambulance or fairground which makes potential clients remember them. They also had their own greyhound called the ‘Flying Frank’ which helped break the ice with clients, it gave them something to talk to them about rather than the weather. Graham said they like to “test creative boundaries” and allowed them to see if the clients they are looking to work with are right for them, if they don’t like their fairground boardroom, maybe they’re not the right client for them.

From a client point of view, we were joined by Katie Evans, who works in crypto markets for a decentralised financial services provider, Swarm Markets. She gave her viewpoint on what clients look for in agencies. Katie said PR shouldn’t just be case studies and awards but should be about doing PR for yourself. Agencies need to talk about who they are and what they stand for and then proof of what they do can shine through your case studies later on.

How do you find and onboard an agency being in a different country?

Katie Evans said that she appointed new agencies abroad during the pandemic so didn’t get the opportunity to go and visit them. She said that she looked at awards, and reports to see who were the best agencies in the financial services sector, using the Holmes report from Provoke Media to see who’s who and used that as a launchpad to look into agencies that were of interest.

Graham said that the Holmes report covers 250 agencies and said there are loads of lists out there e.g. PR week league table which covers 150 agencies “make sure you are on there” said Graham.

Katie Evans also said, “agencies are able to PR themselves, that could be creating density and leveraging their own network on LinkedIn , social media channels to really shout about the good work that they’ve done”.

Use your prospects product/service

Katie Evans highlighted that it’s really important that agencies are familiar with the product or service they are pitching to, describing a time when a Co-Founder of an agency used the service so knew the strengths and weaknesses. “It might sound really kind of obvious for any agency who’s trying to go after sort of new business in the sort of cold sense, use the products!” said Katie Evans.

Katie Street said it’s important to have something different to say and to add value. Graham mentioned that he once vowed not to use a product or service if they didn’t win the pitch, which was a worry when he pitched to HB sauce and Budweiser which he loves- luckily Frank one these pitches!

Integrate your PR with your other activity

Wayne said “in terms of tactics and as somebody who comes from an omni channel background, the more touch points that you can present your agency and provide a positive message about your agency, somewhere down the line it’s going to have some traction”

Is all PR good PR?

Wayne talked about managing a PR crisis, mentioning their previous owner Gordon Beatie leaving the business as a result of a comment he’d made being a “PR misfire”. Wayne said that the tigerbond rebrand formally known as Beatie had been accelerated as a result. It’s given them a platform to talk about tigerbond and an opportunity to reenergise and accelerate plans.

Katie Evans said as a client that it would worry here that it could happen with the work the agency are doing on their brand, but Wayne said this is part of the honest conversations they’ve been having with their clients to reassure them, “transparent communication has made people onboard with the journey” said Wayne.

Everyone in the agency is part of the PR machine

Wayne Silver from tigerbond spoke about how important it is to showcase the culture within an agency and the people within the agency because people buy from people, “people aspect of PR is very important” and agencies should showcase people from the agency to build up trust. Clients want to know that agencies will help solve their problems.

“New business is everybody’s business” said Wayne, and everyone has a role to play, talking about emails going out, cross selling, telling clients about other services/work they’re not aware of.

“Everyone in the agency is part of the PR machine” said Wayne, and he talked about how tigerbond have launched a ‘behind the scenes’ campaign, providing insights into the agency and it’s people to help clients and potential clients get to know them more.

Don’t just take the senior team to pitch

One of the things they don’t do as an agency at tigerbond is take just their senior team to the pitch, and then when they win it, then have juniors work on the account. Wayne said agency’s need to take the team that will be working on the account to the pitch

Katie Evans agreed saying “this whole thing of having the whole team in the pitch rather than just the rainmakers as what we would call them and then you never seen them again, you need to have confidence in the whole team right from the junior members of staff, right up to the senior decision makers”.

When is the right time to ask for a press release?

Katie Evans said that one of her bug bares is signing a contract with a new agency, and them asking straight away to do a press release, saying she wants to talk about the partnership when they have something to show, and some value to offer, “let’s do something first to talk about the partnership when we have something to say” said Katie.

Graham on the other hand talking from a PR agency point of view, said that “I understand the client’s reluctance to get a press release out straight away to trade press but for us it’s only a trade story if it’s new news so it’s the balance between releasing the news once we’ve won an award for a client and we know the relationship is off on a nice footing rather than week one get it out there. But we’re under pressure, getting a phone call or an email from one of the journalists from industry titles that has got a tip off that we’ve pitched against XYZ for a certain bit of business, ‘we know you’ve won it, when can we announce it’ so we have those pressures from the media that want to break it when it’s hot, not in a month or two when we want to” said Graham.

Graham also said that the ideal for an agency is not announcing it for the sake of it, but said it is something that the press will pick up and agencies should do press releases when winning new clients. Katie Street thinks it’s best to ask in a certain way when the time is right and being able to show results. She suggested it’s more interesting from a new business point of view as the brand is going to want to know about “the problem you have solved and the impact you have made”.

Momentum is key when it comes to PR

Graham highlighted that momentum is key when it comes to faming an agency, “agencies with momentum you really get to notice”. It brings energy and attraction which has an effect on staff from a recruitment point of view as well, because winning new clients attracts staff and clients.

How do you fame your agency?

To summarise the conversation, at the end Katie Street listed out the tactic’s agencies can use to make your agency famous to attract new clients:

  • Fame your people, show case talent and diversity, involve the whole agency, or focus on individuals if that’s right for you
  • Fame your work, showing value
  • Fame your clients (especially if they are big names to attract new clients)
  • Fame your process/methodology

The recording from the webinar is now available to watch on our YouTube channel, so you can revisit the conversation from our panel, and find new ideas on how to use PR to get your agency noticed.

The New World of New Biz webinars take place on the first Tuesday of every month at 11am, you can sign up here for free to join the next one.

By Michaela Dudfield
10th June 2021
6 minute read