PR only works when you let your guard down


15th November 2022


Leigh-Ann Hewer

Reading time

3 minutes

Welcoming an external team into your business can be challenging. As a PR agency, we understand that we have to earn our client’s trust and we’d like to think we’re pretty good at doing that, with a number of retained and returning clients acting as proof of this.

Therefore, we put a lot of time and energy into building those relationships with our clients. We respect and value them and what they do, both as individuals and as a business. We work hard to understand them (see our messaging session blog to learn more about how we reach this point).

For us to deliver the best PR results possible, our clients have to be able to let their guard down.

Let me explain what I mean by that.

Think of it like a relationship

Any relationship needs to be built on the foundation of mutual trust, respect and understanding – a PR/ client relationship is no different. As a PR agency, our job is to get to know the business inside and out, pretty and ugly. If things are being kept from us, we can’t do our job. We can’t address issues and we can’t control the message.

On a bad day

One of the things we cover in the very early stages of working with a client is what they are like ‘on a bad day.’ Basically, we talk about the negative bits – the gaps in the business, the places where things have been overlooked, the experiences that were handled poorly, the challenges faced internally. It is absolutely vital that we lay that stuff out on the table in order for us to do the best job that we possibly can.

We’re not here to judge. We’re here to help! It comes back to developing trust.

We can be off the record

Although we never advise off-the-record conversations with journalists – we have many of these with clients.

We need to know the full picture so we can understand what to focus on and what not to.

We are happy to sign NDAs if the information is challenging.

It will help us to prepare and focus on the good stuff

It also helps us to prepare lines for the questions that you don’t want to answer or the eventualities that will hopefully never happen – such as:

  • The event we were helping to plan where someone with a vendetta could have turned up
  • The disgruntled ex-board member who turned out to be a loose cannon
  • The unhappy customer who was threatening to go to the media

An outside perspective

Your PR agency is ultimately on your side, but they’re also an outside perspective. This is a positive thing! They can look at things from a different point of view and may be able to shed light on some of your business blind spots.