As you know, I was part of a panel discussion for agency owners at the recent PRSA International Conference. I spoke about new business development and mentoring. Tom Garrity from the Garrity Group in Albuquerque talked about the legal considerations and finances. My colleague, Indra Gardiner from I.D.E.A. in San Diego, took on branding and marketing as one of her topics. Here’s what she has to say.
Let's set the scene: Your agency is starting to grow, you're hiring, your reputation is spreading. It's time to up your game. Don't be the cobbler's child without any shoes.
Create and own your brand. Branding is the way you express your company that identifies and differentiates your product from other products. In this case, your firm from all other firms. How will you be recognized? What do you want people to feel and think about your company?
Treat yourself like a client. At i.d.e.a. we assign time and resources for the branding and marketing of our company. It is not an afterthought. It is assigned, benchmarked and reviewed regularly.
Start with the visual impact of your brand. Today's web is a visual web, where images matter more than words. What images are you using to tell your story? This is a tough one for PR people. We tend to be word people, not picture people. Start thinking about the imagery you use to tell your stories.
If you don't have a designer on staff, hire one. Or barter trade with your most talented freelance designer. Whatever you do, don't try to be a designer. You're not. You're a talented writer, pitcher, event manager, client manager, etc. etc. Stick with what you're good at and let the pros help with the rest.
When it comes to the written part of your brand, be brutal. PR people love the written word and often need heavy editing when it comes to their website. Oh, even some of the biggest firms in the world haven't learned this lesson yet. Cut, cut, cut. As writer Nick Hornby said "Anyone and everyone taking a writing class knows that the secret of good writing is to cut it back, pare it down, winnow, chop, hack, prune, and trim, remove every superfluous word, compress, compress, compress…".
Don’t forget those keywords. What do you want to be found for in search? If you need some help figuring this out, try these free tools:
Google AdWords Keyword Tool
OK, you’ve got your keywords, your beautifully edited text, the look and feel you love, now what?
Now you do for yourself what you do for clients:
Remember this is a rinse and repeat activity. You’re never really done. Keep asking yourself “how are we differentiating”? How are you creating brand equity for your business?