What’s Working in Agency PR to Generate New Business?

Janet Northen is Partner and EVP Director of Agency Communications at McKinney. She’s been in agency PR for many years, including significant stints and Fallon and The Martin Agency. When I think of agency public relations and how to do it right, I think of Janet. She graciously accepted my invitation to write a guest post on its state of affairs.

First, I’m happy to say agency PR is working.

It’s been a tough ride for agencies large and small and while agencies might look at this area as a place to decrease resources, most agencies are keeping their agency communications pros in place. Staff size may be smaller and budgets for travel tightened but the overall need to keep your brand top of mind is just as important as it ever was.

What’s been the impact of social media?

It’s one more very powerful way to help tell your agency’s story. At McKinney, we’re always working to reinvent the conversation to build more powerful connections between people and brands. So I keep that top of mind when I do any outreach on behalf of the McKinney brand. For me, it’s a real balance of traditional and non-traditional methods

Let me tell you a story. I was at a recent industry event. A reporter I’ve known a long time said it must be hard for agency PR folks like me. I asked him what he meant. He said with newsrooms shrinking, there are fewer and fewer folks to pitch. I just about dropped my obligatory glass of chardonnay. What rock is he living under? 

Just that day, I had reached out to a wide array of journalists and bloggers with several different ideas for adding to the conversation. I had encouraged one or two of our agency’s bloggers to blog about same idea on our agency’s blog. I checked to make sure work was going to be uploaded to YouTube. And scheduled pending news story for our agency web site news feed. And that’s just one idea for one conversation we were hoping to join or even create.

Now one more note. For fear that that reporter or anybody else thinks I sit in my office and “check the boxes” to make sure I’ve dumped our stuff in all the social media buckets, that’s wrong thinking. I make sure there’s a strategy for using social media in the first place. Maybe it’s right. Maybe not.

Are you worried about the decline in traditional print media?

I hate to say it: I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about the decline in print media. Instead, I am reading, viewing, listening and experiencing every kind of media out there to determine how McKinney can add to the conversation. Of course, if anybody, repeat anybody, ever takes my Sunday New York Times print edition away, I will tell the reporter living under that rock to move over. I’m coming in!

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