By Mark Wilson, Creative Director

Brand development can sometimes be a daunting task. The thought of overhauling your brand changing everything and moving away from what you know is a big undertaking. But brand development may not be as daunting and fear-inducing as you first think. In this article, I’ll be delving further into why brand development doesn’t necessarily mean a complete rebrand by answering three questions.

What is brand development?

Firstly, branding is very much the face of your company; it’s how people perceive you and governs their instant reactions when they hear your name or see your product. Brand development is how that brand evolves and develops to ensure that they are staying current. Development can take different forms, such as imagery, tone of voice, messaging, typography, colour, communication channels.

This leads me to my next point, about how brand development isn’t all about changing everything. There are many different intensities to brand development. It could be small tweaks to your imagery and icons or it could be a complete rebranding with a name change and new messaging that is aimed at a new target audience.

A good example of tweaking your brand to constantly evolve is Google – they are always updating logos and icons that generally goes under the radar but ensures their look is current.

Why is it important?

The importance of brand development is easy to understate and sometimes companies don’t realise the importance of it. It’s the face of your company – it’s the first thing people see and think of when your name is mentioned. I always compare it to a news feed; when you look at a news feed that is out of date your perception of it changes and you are unlikely to spend much more time looking through that feed. Whereas, if it’s current, you’re likely to revisit.

Brands are very much the same – you need to stay current to make sure that people trust you are up to the task, especially in comparison to your competitors. It’s no use if you’re a cutting-edge tech company that sells state of the art software but your branding is dated. Your brand needs to reflect the product or service that you are selling.

Where do you start?

This one is a hard one because different factors determine how you develop and what you develop. I look at it in two ways – do you have an old brand, where your brand is established and been around for a long time but needs to be updated? Or are you a new brand that has finished the brand launch and are unsure where to go from there?

Looking at it from the old brand point of view – you may have a good offering and a healthy client base but need to re-energise the brand. My first recommendation would be to look at the core messaging to make sure that it is still relevant and resonating with the audience. From that you can evolve your visual identity, by creating a new website, introducing more colours and imagery to give your brand a modern look and feel that can give you a competitive edge.

Now to look at the other position of the new brand, where it hasn’t been long since you introduced the new brand. Should you develop the brand any further? If the brand is very new, then you need a ‘settling-in’ period to make sure that you get some time to increase brand awareness. If you start changing bits about your brand straight away it’s an uphill battle to create some awareness with your target audience. Then I’d recommend starting slowly – don’t jump straight into changing the logo or colours, it can be as simple as changing a few images on your website to keep it modern and up to date. Once you have some brand awareness then you can start to look at refining and moving into new areas, such as channels.

It’s easy to want to constantly update and develop your brand but before you do make sure to look at whether your brand is still resonating with the audience. If it is then there is little reason to make drastic changes. But if you feel that your brand isn’t working with your current audience or are aiming at a new audience then it might be time for a refresh; feel free to get in touch with me to discuss how we could help develop your brand.

By James Kelliher, CEO

If there’s one thing that last year has highlighted to business, it’s the value of crisis communications and the importance of having the right strategy in place to deal with said crisis.

But before we start using words like “unprecedented” and “new normal”, it may help to take a step back and ask ourselves what a crisis is — the first step in dealing with one. Simply stated, a crisis is a significant event that results in high levels of scrutiny which has the potential to affect an organisation’s normal operations.

Looking at 2020, the defining feature when it comes to the crisis is that the pandemic has affected all organisations; it’s a global challenge. Yes, it has impacted businesses differently in terms of customer service, logistics, supply chain, etc., but overall, everyone has been affected.

That said, the basic principles of crisis comms still apply and haven’t changed. What may change, and certainly should change, is the way we approach planning given the benefit of hindsight and experience from last year.

A case in point is scenario planning; a successful crisis comms plan includes preparing for a host of potential crises e.g. an executive scandal, data breach or natural disaster. Now, however, and moving forward, we’ll be including managing the impact of a global pandemic.

Because one key piece of advice we offer our clients is that you shouldn’t do crisis comms planning during a crisis. It can lead to hasty (and poor) decision making and a less than favourable outcome for the business and its stakeholders.

Our current situation might be an anomaly, but it has demonstrated how important the core principles are:

– Plan for tomorrow
– Respond rapidly
– Work with local authorities
– Position your management front and centre
– Be open and honest
– Demonstrate concern and convey integrity
– Speak with one voice

It has also highlighted the importance of accuracy. During a crisis, it is crucial for businesses to only communicate what they know to be true. Speculation is never advised. Earlier on in the pandemic this came into sharp focus with many brands falling short after making bold statements about impact, job losses, etc. when they simply didn’t have the information available to back that up.

Brands that fared well include those that admitted what they didn’t know but balanced that with making it clear what their plans were to deal with the crisis.

Looking ahead, it’s natural that the crisis comms landscape will continue to evolve, shaped by external factors — much like it’s changed from the 1990s (when it was primarily media relations focused) to now where multiple audiences are important and the use of social media makes it simultaneously more challenging yet easier to monitor what is being communicated.

While COVID has certainly taught us a lot, it’s the adherence to the basic principles and being prepared that will help organisations through. It’s about being proactive, understanding the situation and having the tools at your disposal (like the right message communicated to the right audiences) to ensure you’re addressing the crisis and demonstrating that you have a handle on things, even when there is information that you don’t yet know.

We’re a deliberately different kind of tech PR agency. Here are the six reasons why:
#1 Set fees for set deliverables
#2 Absolute clarity from the outset in terms of investment, activity and outputs
#3 Agreed performance targets
#4 Commitment to results-driven, transparent campaigns ensure we truly deliver for clients
#5 Formal service level agreement with a pro-rata fee rebate if targets are missed
#6 Specialist teams dedicated to content, digital, creative and media

You may be familiar with the conventional PR model – paying for hours on a monthly retainer

with very little commitment or transparency from the agency to what you will actually get for that investment. This has always struck me as a problematic model for clients, and I know from the conversations we have with current and prospective clients that I’m not wrong. The retainer model encourages agencies to be inefficient. If the agency needs to rewrite an article three times, that comes at the cost to the client. Why should the client be punished for agency mistakes?

At Whiteoaks we are deliberately different. We set-up our model to be results-focused – we want you to know from the outset what we’ll be delivering for you. We don’t want to talk to you about hours and retainers because we know that this isn’t a good way for you to invest your PR spend. Instead, we make strategic campaign recommendations based on your brief, and then give you complete transparency on what we will deliver, over what timeframe, and what the exact cost per item will be. That means you know from the start what you’re paying for and exactly what you’re getting. We can be flexible too; if your needs change mid-campaign we can adjust the deliverables and outputs accordingly.

The differences don’t stop there. It’s not all about activity – results are the real measure of success. Having agreed the deliverables with you, we will also put in place guaranteed performance targets such as coverage volume and key message penetration. These metrics will depend on the type of campaign we’re running (for example, success will look different between social media and traditional media relations campaigns) but these are all agreed upfront to make sure we’re delivering a true return on your investment. And we’re so confident in delivering these results for you that we offer all of our clients a formal service level agreement with a pro-rata fee rebate if we miss the targets set at the start of the campaign.

Another common frustration we see with prospects is lots of PR agencies use a team of generalists to execute the campaign. It is unrealistic to expect that everyone is great at everything; people have different strengths and skills they can bring to the team. We utilise this by employing teams of specialists. Instead of having a team do a bit of everything – you’ll have someone dedicated to each discipline. That means a media specialist, content creator, creative designer and social media specialist working on your campaign alongside your dedicated account team. This guarantees you a consistent stream of quality outputs because they are always delivered by those best suited to that discipline.

Our dedicated practice streams

We’re proud to be deliberately different in the PR industry and have provided some of the most exciting brands in the tech industry with a unique approach to guaranteeing ROI on their PR investment.

If you want to learn more about our model please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

By Bekki Bushnell, Head of Business Development

A good client-agency relationship is a partnership. At least it should be. But too often it’s relegated to a transactional relationship – something we hear often in a new business environment.

One of the problems is the length of the relationship. In 1984, the average client-agency relationship tenure was 7.2 years. By 1997, that number declined by 25% to 5.3 years. Today the average client-agency tenure is thought to be less than three years. If that number continues to fall, people will be switching agencies every 6 months!

Trust is the most pivotal part of any working relationship now more than ever. If your agency doesn’t earn your trust early on then it’ll be very hard to get impactful results. While it’s the agency’s responsibility to gain the trust – you as the client need to give them the chance to prove themselves so that they can churn out the results for you, the client.

What’s needed to build a lasting long term relationship and ensure your long-term growth? What should you expect from your PR agency? While the list isn’t exhaustive, here are my 7 things:

#1 Responsiveness
Your agency should have consistent communication with your team to make sure they’re aligned with you. They should be learning everything they can about your business. Agencies need to ask the right questions to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. By doing so the media relations and content writing team can translate the passion that you have for the business to the media and your audience to create impactful storylines.

#2 Proactiveness
On the other side of the coin, your team needs to show the initiative to get the campaign moving and maintain momentum. This doesn’t mean not giving them any input into content ideas or strategy, but it does mean they have the know-how and experience to identify opportunities, make suggestions, look for new angles and create campaigns without being spoon-fed.

#3 Valuable deliverables
It’s not enough to expect just some ROI numbers based on advertising equivalents anymore. We’ve moved way past that and there are so many more metrics to consider. Which means it’s good to agree with your agency what you exactly want and expect from a campaign. Whether that’s lead generation, raising awareness, social link clicks from coverage, volume of coverage, targeted press etc. These should be established at the start so that the campaign can be tailored around the deliverables and then continually tracked and measured against throughout the relationship.

#4 Onboarding sessions
Your agency should be taking the time to get to know you and an effective way to do this is onboarding sessions. The agency needs time with your wider to team to understand the company messages and its business goals. Without your input, even the best PR team will struggle to get good results. In addition, these sessions shouldn’t be a one-off, but can add real value throughout the relationship and as your business and goals evolve.

#5 Good industry knowledge
Most agencies will already have a good understanding of your industry due to previous experience but if you are a new area to them, then the agency needs to get up to speed on the latest trends and news stories. And keep up to date. A lot of this information can be gleaned from the onboarding sessions and early-stage research.

#6 Creativity
This is the one that is at the top of the list for many clients. Creativity is the ingredient that is going to make you stand out from the others and will stick in the mind of the customer and shouldn’t be forgotten in the B2B world. It’s an integral part of every campaign. So, of course, creativity is something to expect from your agency. It’s what many agencies invest a lot of money in to make sure they’ve got the edge.

#7 Specialist team
Are your team playing to their strengths? This may seem obvious but it’s missed by a lot of people. A lot of the time PR agencies use a team of generalists – everyone does a bit of everything from media relations to content writing. While this is a great experience for the team, it’s not beneficial for the client. You want everyone playing to their strengths, which means having a dedicated content writer that knows your tone of voice and consistently churns out high-quality content. A dedicated media relations specialist who can focus on the relationship with the journalists to guarantee placements in top tier publications. These are the people that will be working on your account day in day out so make sure to know they’re utilising everyone’s skills.

Choosing an agency can be a long and painful process but hopefully, my 7 tips make the next time you switch agency a bit less painful and will go a long way to cementing that long-term relationship with your next agency.

By John Broy, Chief Client Officer

If this year has shown us anything, it’s that the digital landscape is well equipped to handle adversity. In fact, studies have shown that the pandemic has actually boosted the digital economy.

From an individual perspective, we’ve used social media more this year than ever before, whether that was WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok or LinkedIn. And not just for the usual stuff like keeping in touch with friends or watching dog videos (guilty). But for consuming news.

When it comes to business, the same is true. Which means organisations are or should be optimising the way they use social channels to get the maximum benefit, and connect and engage with their target audiences. It doesn’t need to be complicated or require a complete change in strategy. Instead, it’s about making social media work harder for your business.

Here’s how:

#1 Stop thinking B2B
Gone are the days of separating B2B and B2C social media. B2B used to look to B2C for creativity and electrifying ideas. Now, B2B social media has firmly taken the creative reins and is delivering inspired, original and successful campaigns, without drawing on help from its consumer cousin. Which is how it should be because businesses understand that creativity is vital to creating thumb-stopping content that stands out from competitors.

#2 Think mobile first
Both long and short form post copy have a place on social media. It’s all about presenting it to your audience in the right way. Like capturing your audience’s attention right up front to entice them to read the full post and respond to the call to action.

TIP: Did you know when viewing post activity on LinkedIn only the first 140 characters are available? LinkedIn will cut off your post with “See More” after this character count. Square and portrait social tiles also ensure domination when viewing the news feed via mobile.

#3 Tap into new features
LinkedIn has dropped a number of new features this year. From LinkedIn Polls, Stories, Pages Posts, Events and Notify Employees. Mix up how you share your content on social media to get more visibility and drive results – all tailored to the audience you’re targeting.

#4 Data doesn’t lie
Social media provides tons of metrics. When planning your social strategy, learn from what works, and what doesn’t, and make the changes. Beyond the numbers, tap into the quality of your data to understand follower demographics.

Moving ahead
Of course, social success should form part of your wider strategy which includes having the right content, talking to your audiences at the right time, and, of course, giving them something of value. That said, these four points are a great way to start the process of making your social media platforms work harder for your business.

If you’d like to find out more about this or how we can help, get in touch with the Whiteoaks Social Media team.

By Harriet Bolt, Social Media Manager

I’m sure a lot of people back in March last year didn’t think we’d still be stuck indoors due to coronavirus.  But here we are, still changing, adapting and trying to predict what’s going to happen in the next three to six months.

So far, there have been some great examples of how companies have dealt with their communications creatively over this period, such as Aldi and Brewdog’s ‘beef’ over Aldi’s rip-off IPA. Then there have been brands that completely missed the mark, but I won’t go into that here.

It’ll be hard to find a brand that hasn’t been affected by the pandemic – particularly when it comes to PR and marketing budgets. In fact, according to a recent IPA Bellweather study, marketing budgets in the UK have suffered the highest cuts in the 20+ history of the report.

However, just because the majority are doing it does that mean that it’s the right thing to do? As a PR agency, we’re always going to argue no, and there is evidence to back this up. A study by Harvard Business School researchers shows that companies that cut marketing investment come off worse when coming out of a downturn.

But that aside, here are our top three reasons to keep doing PR during the pandemic based on our 25+ experience in the industry:

  1. Communication is still important

Never write the importance of communications off. Now more than ever your stakeholders, be it, customers, staff or investors, will look to you for assurance. Whether that’s about operations, customer service or delivery the best way to do this is through communications – so keep the communications flowing because once those relationships are gone, they’re very hard to build back up again. It may not always be positive news but by having that constant stream of information going you will avoid assumptions being made, you need to be open and honest with your audience. This is especially true when it comes to the media – you want to keep those strong relationships so that when you’re ready to kick-start wider campaigns,  they still know who you are and what your business is about.

  1. PR can be flexible

You may have the impression that PR is something that requires a big budget and isn’t very flexible. I’m happy to tell you that you don’t need to do extravagant ideas or invest in a big PR campaign. Part of this is having an agency and account team that respond to your current needs. Your account team should advise and guide you through any situation you find yourself in and if that means reducing spend or reallocating some budget to focus on a different area such as crisis comms then there’s nothing to say that can’t be done.

  1. PR can be so much more

There’s more to PR than the traditional media relations. Whether that’s working with you on social and digital, delivering creative campaigns or incorporating marketing elements, the agencies of today have broader skills across channels and can tailor make campaigns to suit your business needs – now and into the future. More than that, account teams often act as an extension of your own and have tremendous value to add over above “traditional PR”, especially in times like this when a crisis comms plan is so important.

In times like this PR still has an incredibly important role to play in maintaining brand health and engaging with your audiences — whether you’re using it in the same way as before or in an adapted way. And with budgets being cut, working with the right team can help you realise your ever-important return on investment.

By Associate Director, Charlotte Causley

Some see PR as an art. Some see PR as a science. The truth is that it falls squarely in the middle. There are formulas and processes, and a good deal of creative thinking that goes into making PR successful. As a brand, this success has to be translated into something tangible; because it’s not enough to simply get coverage. You have to justify your investment in PR to your board and you need to prove that it is reaching its goals, be it increased awareness, lead generation, growth, readying for funding or expanding into a new market.

As an agency we hear often enough in a new business environment that ROI is kind of murky and difficult to see. We challenge that view because we believe ROI in PR isn’t a myth or pipe dream. It’s achievable.

Here’s how:

  1. Focus on activity, not time

The retainer model. You pay for time. It’s the way it’s always been. But that doesn’t make it right. Instead, you should focus on deliverables, tangible outcomes. That way you can see a direct link between what you’re getting from your PR agency and what you’re paying for. Which leads to the next point…

  1. Know what you’re getting

Depending on how your PR campaign is structured, it’s important to know what you’re actually getting for your money. Yes, there will be objectives and outcomes, but specifically, you need to understand what you’re getting from your agency in terms of consultancy, management and deliverables, such as placements, articles, releases, etc.

  1. Build your tactics on a sound strategy

This sounds like a given – having a powerful strategy behind your campaign to shape and guide your tactics. But often, we lose sight of objectives or they aren’t clearly defined in the first place. Having a strong strategy from the outset ensures you stay on track, can adjust as you need to and have a better chance of meeting those goals.

  1. Agree what success looks like

This ties into measurement. Yes, your campaign needs to be measurable and you need specific KPIs in order to measure success. But more than that, you need to be aligned with your PR agency as to what those metrics are and what success for your business and campaign actually means – whether that’s introducing your CEO to the national media or helping the sales team generate new leads.

  1. Be structured but flexible

Your PR campaign should have definite structure to it — that’s expected. But it should also include enough flexibility to adapt to changes within the business or the industry. A lot can happen in six months so having the ability to swop out activity and tweak your campaign is vital.

Find out how we approach PR and how we can help

By Bekki Bushnell, Head of Business Development

Media relations forms the core of any successful PR programme. The collective media, with all its variations, plays a highly influential role in shifting perceptions, building (and breaking down) reputations and, ultimately, helping funnel prospective customers into the sales pipeline. Done well, with well-crafted messages that resonate and engage with stakeholders, it can deliver tangible commercial results.

While there are many steps in the process, at its heart is the media interview – a direct conversation between the journalist and the spokesperson that has the power to shape and deliver coverage with real impact. As a spokesperson, in that moment your job is to tell a compelling story. The journalist’s job is also to tell a compelling story. The key to any successful media interview is to ensure you’re both telling the same story – and one that informs a common audience.

Here are five tried and tested principles to help you succeed in your next media interview:

Make it easy, make it compelling

A common challenge is wanting to say too much. Any story has a back story and so, understandably, it’s tempting to cover all bases but that can risk losing the central message among the detail. The result could be a piece of coverage very different to the one intended and so an effective starting point is to distil that story into a single attention-grabbing headline with three concise supporting messages. This not only provides a structure to keep the conversation on track but also helps the journalist get straight to the point of the angle you’re contributing.

Apply a customer’s mindset

A journalist will have their readership in mind at all times. If the interview is on a developing industry issue, they’ll want to know how this affects their readers, what action they can take and what expertise you can offer to move that conversation forwards.

There is a time and place to talk product – and your PR team will set up those interviews where the aim is to discuss a specific launch or provide background on company developments. Most often, the journalist is looking for views on an external issue or challenge so, tempting as it might be to lead with product, it’s a valuable opportunity to demonstrate expertise and unique understanding of your market and your customers.

In these cases, it pays to be opinionated and have an informed view that differs from the norm and that always adds a new dimension. Journalists will be talking to multiple contributors so standing out for all the right reasons can be instrumental in landing that lead quote.

Tell the story their way

There are many types of journalists with differing approaches and mindsets – the new journalist looking to expand their sector knowledge, the rushed journalist on deadline seeking a quotable quote, the regional journalist championing local business… Each one influential in their field and hungry for content. What they have in common is they are all looking for a good story, a new and different angle and, even better, an exclusive. Your PR team is there to brief you are what a specific journalist is after and ensure you’re equipped with the right messages to tell the story their way.

Preparation, preparation, preparation

Articulating the right story requires preparation and your PR team is on hand to arm you with the tools to ensure success. This includes a full understanding of the interview subject and context, a briefing on the media outlet and journalist and a run through of key messages and potential questions. Through rehearsing different lines of conversation, you’ll have the confidence to handle those difficult questions and understand how to turn them to your advantage.

Keep the conversation going

Journalists value reliable sources of expertise and comment that they can call upon for future stories – particularly if they’re on deadline and need a quick response from a trusted spokesperson. As such, each interview is an opportunity to position yourself as an authority and open up longer-term conversations. Through building rapport and providing journalists with timely insight, you’ll build relationships where you can truly shape opinion and position you and your business at the heart of the debate.

By Chris Patmore, Head of Media

20 years in B2B PR. I’m not sure I expected to be writing that when I graduated with a degree in International Marketing back in 2001. Although as you’ve probably guessed, my career in this industry began some time before the gown and mortar board.

During school and college years, I eagerly helped out a local PR agency with anything I could – getting my first step on the ladder to help carve out future employment opportunities. I had an industrial placement during my degree and worked within PR during academic holidays…oh and my dissertation examined international PR, so I guess the writing was on the wall!

From starting as a junior account executive to two decades later as the MD of an award-winning B2B tech agency, it’s fair to say that I’ve learnt a lot not just as a communications professional, but as a manager, about running a business and about the industry as a whole.

Here are five things I’ve learnt over the last 20 years…

#1 You don’t have to be a ‘techie’

Yes, it’s B2B tech PR, but you don’t need to be a techie. Having a certain amount of technical knowledge does help, as does an interest in technology, but it’s not a term I would use describe myself.

Throughout the years, I’ve seen and contributed to rather a lot of tech trends which are now a part of our everyday life such as HD television and the cloud. While the technology driving both is complex and sophisticated – the trick for working in the industry is to have an understanding of the nuts and bolts, and features and benefits. That way you can translate those technical concepts for the layman, be it the media, customers or investors.

#2 You need to be customer centric

Service delivery isn’t for everyone. And that’s okay. I’ve seen many people come and go within the world of B2B tech PR and those who ‘go’ are often the ones who simply don’t get a buzz out of service delivery. It’s not a fault or a criticism, they simply prefer to be on the other side of the table.

As a business, everything we do starts with the question…what do our customers want and need? It’s only with that knowledge that we can adapt and change to remain relevant.

#3 Relevance always matters

Talking of relevance, it’s a key element for both businesses and individuals. If I think back to my first days in PR, I used to snatch the press clippings from the fax machine (yes, an actual fax machine), cut them out, mount them and post them off to clients, boasting about the column inches said article achieved.

Rather a lot has changed since then. Buzz words have been and gone and the depth of PR campaigns continues to evolve. It takes desire, time, commitment and determination to remain relevant. As a service provider, our clients look to us to be ahead of the curve in terms of emerging trends and to achieve success. As a communications professional, you need to grab any opportunities you can to learn new skills or ways of working which can help you grow and ideally present commercial opportunities for the business.

#4 Don’t be afraid to specialise

Although success may come more easily if you have a rounded knowledge of PR and integrated communications, you will most likely find an element of the delivery which you particularly enjoy — especially today.

The term ‘PR’ now encompasses so much that it’s harder to be a jack of all PR trades and more likely that you’ll end up being a master of none. Much like it’s a good idea to have a broad understanding of technology, having an overall view of marketing communications and strategy will be necessary for success while you might find a natural desire or skill within one of the specialist delivery skills such as content creation or social media.

Becoming a specialist doesn’t close the door to development and rather opens the door to success and progression.

#5 Relinquish control

Unashamedly, I’m a control freak. Like everything, it has its benefits but also its challenges. I have a process for most things; a certain way I like to do things and I like for things to be done. And for a while, that was it.

But a few years back, I realised my way wasn’t the only way. Only with this recognition can you really allow those around you to flourish, which in turn will support their individual and your collaborative success.

Again, looking at our business, I like to think I can recognise our team members’ strengths and encourage them to play to them. We employ specialists with potential, but that potential will not be reached unless they are allowed to spread their wings and have responsibility. There will be bumps in the road but calculated risks and allowing those around you to support your growth will deliver ultimate success.

And finally…

Looking back at my late teens and early twenties, I know that my eagerness to get a foot in the industry was worth it as were all the hours I put into clipping coverage, fetching coffee and helping with events. As a result, I can’t tout the value of hands-on experience enough.

Yes, a good CV and the relevant qualifications are equally important but having that first-hand knowledge of how an agency operates, the culture, and their expectations, gives you that boost and gives you a definite advantage.

By Suzanne Griffiths, Managing Director

When deciding to embark on a Public Relations campaign, and ultimately selecting a PR agency to go on that journey with you, there are many factors that you need to consider. For many fast-growth businesses PR is a significant, strategic investment, and therefore choosing the right agency isn’t a decision that can, or should be, rushed. Things like experience, accessibility, cost, creativity and even personality fit should all factor into the decision-making process to ensure a successful and happy working relationship.

Thinking specifically about the financial aspects of onboarding an agency, assuming strategic recommendations are well received, prospective PR clients all want to know one thing: how much is this going to cost? Once a proposal is in place and both parties have an idea of what the campaign will look like agencies can give a monthly, or total, fee.

But looking beyond that, monthly fee businesses should be asking an even more important question: what exactly will I get for that and what will that mean for my business?

The simple truth is most agencies that work on a retainer-based model, where you’re billed for time spent by the agency, will struggle to give you an accurate or exact answer to that question, particularly the first part. When you’re buying time there is no way to guarantee what you will actually get for your money once those hours are used up.

In relation to the latter part of that question, it’s also important to consider what success looks like to you. For some, lead generation is a must. For others, it’s more important to raise brand awareness in new industries or attract attention from potential partners or investors. Traditionally, PR agencies have only been able to give estimates in terms of results, and certainly no guarantees, and that makes complete sense. When translating fee to hours to deliverables and ultimately results, it’s hard to be exact.

We believe there is a better way. At Whiteoaks, we are passionate about delivering ROI for our clients, making sure we can demonstrate the value of every penny spent on PR. Our unique model of engagement is deliberately different, offering clients set fees for set deliverables, ensuring absolute clarity from the outset. With this model we are completely transparent about how our clients’ investment will look not just in terms of the deliverables, but also by enabling us to guarantee tangible results that are aligned to our clients’ business objectives.

The icing on the cake? We offer all of our clients formal service level agreements, so if we don’t deliver then you get your money back on a pro-rata basis. How’s that for ROI?

By Bekki Bushnell, Head of Business Development

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