Helping PRs to PR: hiring a dedicated marketing resource makes perfect sense for agencies

If anyone is going to be good at self-promotion, it's going to be a PR agency, right?

Agencies should hire marketing managers to help them with their own PR, argues Jo Roberts
Agencies should hire marketing managers to help them with their own PR, argues Jo Roberts

Actually, quite the opposite is often true. A bit like the decorator whose own home is in need of a good lick of paint, it can be hard to justify sacrificing time to work on your own PR when you’re so busy doing it for other people.

When agency marketing is a collective responsibility, it is less likely to be done.

Client work will always come first (naturally), so it ends up being one of those things that no-one quite gets around to; that’s why having a dedicated marketing resource makes a lot of sense.

I often wonder how those agencies which don’t have a dedicated marketing resource manage to deal with the constant requests for award entries.

During one week earlier this year, I spent a good 90 per cent of my time writing award entries.

Crafting an entry isn’t just a case of re-hashing a case study. It requires additional research, such as quantitative data and testimonials from clients and other stakeholders.

Entries often need to be art-worked and then proof read and sent to clients for approvals.

Managing approvals and amends is a lengthy process. And then you have to collate packs of supporting materials.

Try doing all of this for several entries at once.

It’s a full-time job when award season is in full swing and if you can’t dedicate the time to getting them right, it can make or break your chances of actually getting shortlisted.

Of course, award entries are only one part of the job.

My role is to help the agency to showcase what it does and it’s also vital that any PR agency can practice what it preaches.

For example, how can you advise a client on social media strategy, if your own LinkedIn page hasn’t been touched for weeks?

Other areas that I support with include assisting with new business and pitch decks, promoting spokespeople and securing editorial opportunities.

I have even become quite heavily involved in employee engagement initiatives, helping to recruit and retain the best talent.

I’m certainly never left twiddling my thumbs.

So why doesn’t every sizeable agency employ a marketing manager? Is it a question of overhead costs?

Surely, if a job needs to be done, then someone has to do it.

If client teams are writing their own award entries or creating a pitch deck, it’s still non-billable time.

Perhaps there is a common belief that PRs will do their own PR because, quite simply, that’s what they do and therefore why pay someone else to do it?

However, this brings me back to the point about client work always coming first – and as we all know, client work never really lets up.

There’s no denying that PR is a competitive industry and if you want to stand out from the crowd then you need someone to take charge on that, to help sell your points of difference and to ultimately drive business forward.

Jo Roberts is marketing manager at Virgo Health

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