As the end of 2018 quickly approaches, it has become more important than ever for Public Relations agencies to be available at anytime, anywhere, and devoted to the ultimate success of their clients, no matter what it takes. But, in this day and age, what does it take? What makes a PR agency stand out from the pack and excel?
Based on my experience leading The Fearey Group in Seattle, Wash. (USA) for the past six years, I can tell you it requires the ability to coordinate media events, launches, brand awareness campaigns and understanding the broad spectrum of digital marketing and how it integrated with other PR programs. This is done across time zones, borders and continents. It requires you to be everywhere at once and display innate industry expertise – in every industry. How is that possible? Well, on your own it’s not. But by banding together with 50 agencies around the world, we are making the impossible part of our normal day, and they are too. We are part of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), and it is this community that has allowed my agency to grow and flourish over the years, exceeding the expectations of clients who leverage it.
Here are a few reasons why.
Connections Around the Globe
Co-founded in 1992 by my predecessor and mentor, Pat Fearey, PRGN has helped our agency live up to the demanding expectations of major clients around the world. I work with 50 fully vetted PR agencies headquartered on every continent daily, and by working together, our collective global perspective and expertise is unmatched. For example, in the last two days I’ve talked to PRGN members in Germany, Ireland, Texas, Arizona, France, and Japan. While my regional skill set lies in the west coast of the U.S., I have relied on their own regional knowledge and media outreach more times than I can count.
My colleague Chuck Norman of S&A Communications in North Carolina and fellow PRGN member, said this when I asked him about what PRGN means to his company: To me, PRGN is a global support system that has helped my agency get connected to opportunities we would never have went for before. To the client, PRGN can be seen as an extension of my team in North Carolina. Through the network, I’m able to leverage staff around the world, and that helps us win more business, but also provides our clients with a chance to work with one agency for all their international needs.”
Making PR More Affordable and Effective
Working with PRGN member agencies is also cost-effective and efficient. Many companies who have a national or international reach can’t afford to hire and manage three different agencies, with different policies, communication styles, and budgets. That’s incredibly inefficient and can lead to inconsistent results and a decreased ROI. Through PRGN, member agencies source valuable information such as local media lists and local influencers. We leverage contacts from different regional headquarters to keep costs down for our client. We also work together to coordinate media tours – for example, while my agency might take the lead on a restaurant opening on the west coast, one of our members may help that same client with another opening in Texas or Milan.
“PRGN helps my agency expand our scope, services, and overall reach,” says Chuck, “being part of the network has opened up the world to my agency and to my clients that are seeking international reach but need to make sure every dollar counts.”
A Community of Vetted Peers
There’s a reason why members of PRGN feel so comfortable contacting each other for help, why they don’t think twice about sharing sources and lending their expertise to another agency when needed. We hang out – a lot. All PRGN members – meaning the agency owners – gather in person two times a year for a multi-day meeting and attendance is mandatory. This week, we’re in Romania for our second-half of the year meeting. These meetings take place around the world and they are by far the most important piece of the puzzle.
It’s during these face-to-face interactions that agency owners bond, they break the ice, and feel comfortable. It makes virtual relationships real and fuels international collaboration for the next six months. I feel completely at ease dialing up my contact in Chile for help, because we’ve spent quality time together over the years, and I consider him my friend.
All members of PRGN have gone through an intense vetting process and understand the world better than anyone. During these meetings, all members are able to share the challenges they face and successes they’ve experienced as agency owners. We learn and grow together, working through the nuances of how business is conducted internationally. By sitting down and sharing a meal with someone, I feel much more comfortable reaching out to them in the future.”
For me, it all boils down to relationships. That’s at the core of The Fearey Group; when working with any client, our goal is always a personal connection and long-term relationship building. PRGN places equal importance on the human element of public relations – and it’s what keeps me coming back year after year.
Aaron Blank is CEO and President of The Fearey Group in Seattle, Washington (USA). He’s also president-elect of the global network with a term set to begin in April 2019.