The other half and often overlooked keyword in “public relations” is the word “relations,” as in relationships, and how our field helps businesses and individuals with relating to others. It’s probably safe to say that most of us think of PR in terms of media relations, investor relations, influencer relations, and internal communications (when working in-house). Speaking to a handful of marketing peers and other agency owners, it seems that the often neglected but very valuable component in marketing and PR, especially with agencies, is the ability to develop co-marketing opportunities and relationship-building initiatives amongst agency clients.
Here are some tips as to how to bring your agency’s network of clients together to keep them helping and feeding each other for the best type of marketing.
Choose a specialty.
Fortunately, many PR agencies are built to generally focus on a vertical market in which the agency has a strength or “sweet spot,” such as consumer tech, health tech, or entertainment, which means that clients generally have an alignment and can be good resources and partners for one another.
While specializing in a certain type of client, it is important to avoid competition and conflict. However, if you specialize in a niche focus area, that may very well be impossible. I recall managing the PR strategy for YouTube, M-Go and Hulu at the same time, prior to starting my agency. Transparency and a deep understanding of the media that touches these similar companies can work in everyone’s favor. Complementary markets are useful for leveraging expertise and relationships with media professionals whose beats cross what several clients are doing. This is the most basic form of synergy among clients, even when they don’t “work” together.
Do good work to prompt referrals.
When clients are happy with the work and coverage delivered by their PR/marketing agency, their positive word of mouth can be a goldmine to the agency. Satisfied clients will often recommend their agency to friends and business partners. And new clients will generally listen to trusted friends, sign on, and if they are satisfied, will pay it forward by recommending other clients.
Look for collaboration opportunities.
A great agency uses every resource available to help clients, and one client can be a resource for another. If one client is a customer of another, they can offer insight on differentiators, pain points solved and be used for case studies and testimonials. If clients are in similar industries, they can be pitched together for trend pieces. It also makes it easier for the journalist or producer to have one point of contact to coordinate interview times, background information and collateral.
More importantly, clients can act as resources for one another. For example, we worked with a client to launch its first-ever consumer device, a new wearable aimed at helping people get lean and manage weight through neuroscience. Our team selected a group of our notable clients and friends who work within the medical industry for a panel discussion, “Weighing in on Weight Loss: How Technology is Solving the Problem.” The evening of the product’s launch, we streamed the discussion live via Facebook, which generated more than 20,000 views and 77 shares. In this way, a trusted panel was built around our client’s product and other clients of ours gained visibility.
In other cases, you could introduce clients whose brands are based on a similar purpose. For example, two of our clients — one a self-mastery coach focused on health, wealth, spirituality and relationships; the other an executive mentor, author and motivational speaker focused on finance, real estate and learning from others who have been successful in building their own wealth and success — have featured each other as guests on their respective podcasts. They are now in each other’s personal networks.
In addition to shared media experiences, clients can network with one another, and provide advice and support to help one another overcome challenges related to operating and growing a business. If done correctly, an agency and its clients should all be partners, helping one another to achieve success. Never be afraid to ask for help.