PR, like many services industries, often has a bad name. It is an inconvenient truth – and one that continues to blight the sector to this day.
The reason, really, is a simple one. Traditionally, PR agencies have charged their clients a monthly retainer, which in effect buys a certain number of hours, with staff filling out and working to a timesheet each week.
Since when, we would ask, has “hours” ever been a metric against which to judge PR success? It certainly falls short when trying to justify that “dreaded” return on investment.
To make matters worse – and perhaps inevitably – the system has often been abused. If the agency were to write a hot topic article, for sake of argument, they would want it to take twice as long as it should do. Once it had been sent to the client for approval, if it needed rounds and rounds of amends, then happy days. More hours racked up on a timesheet, less delivered to the client. And if they use up their allotted hours for the month, then they come to the client asking for more money.
Getting B2B Tech PR Right
By its nature, this retainer-based approach is great for public relations agencies, but less than satisfactory for clients – and that struck us as odd right from our inception as a specialist business to business tech PR agency.
Over the last 25 years, we have become pretty knowledgeable about PR-led tactics, how long they should take and what output they should achieve for B2B technology brands.
As a result, we don’t charge our clients a retainer and we don’t talk to them about hours or timesheets. Instead, we offer set fees for set deliverables, building bespoke campaigns that map to the client’s business objectives. Whether each deliverable takes us two hours, 20 hours or 200 hours, the fee to the client stays the same.
This means, right from the very outset, the client has absolute transparency about what their investment is, and what it is buying. But that’s really only half of the story.
Because we build strategically-aligned campaigns from day one, we set strict performance targets alongside them that link to the tactical plan. For a traditional technology PR and media relations campaign, this could be coverage volume and key message penetration for example, and for social media this would be more tangible engagement metrics as a start.
The final thing that we do is offer all clients a formal service level agreement that simply states; ‘if we do not deliver what we said we would, we give you money back on a pro rata basis’. If we miss our coverage target by 10%, for example, the client gets 10% of their total fee back.
We believe this is a better way for clients to engage a PR agency, one that puts the pressure on us to be proactive and drive the campaign forward. It provides the client’s business with complete certainty in terms of investment, activity and results, and if we fail to perform, you get a proportion of your money back anyway.
Experts in the Technology Sector
Since 1993 Whiteoaks has focussed on the tech sector, almost entirely in the business to business environment. It’s in our DNA. Whether managing more than a dozen PR agencies across the EMEA region for multinational clients such as OKI, to launching disruptive Fintech or cyber security firms to the UK market, we know what success looks like, and we know how to deliver it.
Our approach differentiates us, but we believe our work is second to none. With an unrivalled network of business and tech journalists, analysts, bloggers, vloggers and industry influencers, and an expertise in leveraging social media content on the right platforms for our clients, we ensure their businesses cut through the noise, building brand awareness and generating sales leads through targeted and impactful integrated marketing campaigns.
At the heart of both traditional PR and social media is good content – and we know all about good content. Our expert team of skilled content creators – with decades of experience covering B2B tech – draft everything from press releases to technology articles and technical whitepapers. This guarantees a high level of output for our clients as they know each time they receive a piece of copy, it has been written by their own, dedicated content creator who understands the tech landscape and their specific messaging inside and out.
We’re fortunate to have a raft of B2B clients happy to discuss the great experience they have had working with us in case studies, whether for Tech PR, Content, Digital services or in integrated marketing campaigns. To start your journey towards a better PR experience, please contact us here.
Bekki Bushnell, Head of Business Development