Why a PR Agency Might Say “No”

Robert Andrews • January 6, 2023

There are many reasons why you should hire a specific public relations firm. They may specialize in a particular area, like crisis communication or media relations. The firm could be on the cutting edge of producing engaging digital and graphic content or they might have a successful blueprint, and they stick to it. Wash, rinse, and repeat. From a budget perspective, knowing these skill sets may help with efficiency and the maximization of the ROI for your budget.

However, in public relations, the blueprint often needs to be customized. As a client, you may have new requests that change the timeline of important projects or impede the efficiency and efficacy of a project roll-out.

There is a small moment in time between when we are asked to complete a project or task by our clients and when we’ve all agreed to move forward. Within that gap lies the most significant asset a public relations firm can provide you: the opportunity to be a strategic advisor.

In addition to executing our outlined scope of work, it is incumbent upon us to be your advisor, see around corners and monitor both the forest and the trees. We want to be a partner that advises and executes to achieve your goals. Sometimes that may mean telling a client something they don’t want to hear or providing guidance that is different from an initial conversation.

We live in a fast-paced world. Information moves quickly, and decisions are made rapidly. Yes, we have quotas and KPIs to meet and promises to keep, but when the overall goal is to serve our client’s best interest, sometimes the smart first step is to slow down before giving a definite “Yes!”

Your PR team should take the time to think through what they are being asked to do. It may be the right thing to do, and they may even need to get it done quickly!

PR professionals should be asking these questions to benefit their clients:

  • Does this project work towards the client’s overall goal?
  • Is this project strategically worthwhile for the client?
  • Is the timeline realistic?
  • Does the firm have the capacity, or the skillsets, to take on this project?

The PR firm may decide there is a better idea or approach. In this case, they should be thoughtful and advise you by offering an alternative approach and explain the whys and why nots. It is vital to deploy our strategic radar on your behalf and pick up on things that you might not otherwise see. In the end, saying “no” or “maybe let’s look at it in a different way” might be the best thing that happens and strengthen the client relationship.

While doing so, PR firms must act with an abundance of professionalism. Prepare to present a well-reasoned position and respect the client’s current situation and their final decision.

Ultimately, we are your partners. We are here to serve you, our clients, and perform our duties to the best of our ability – by showing our value through thoughtful advising and careful execution.

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