Public relations professionals are often great at providing the general public with honest information. After all, it is one of the six core values in the PRSA Code of Ethics. However, it is not just the general public that deserves honesty; the brands who hire public relations agencies and consultants deserve the same. That is where many practitioners fall short, not necessarily on purpose, but due to structural flaws in the traditional public relations agency model.
Brands hiring an outsourced public relations team deserve honest, direct communication, especially when it comes to setting campaign expectations and reporting on progress and results. That requires systematic clarity, transparency and accountability. Without those elements, it’s difficult to form trust and connection between the brand and public relations team, which is needed to produce both results and a healthy working relationship.
According to a survey by Label Insights, of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers what they perceive as complete transparency. Similarly, when brands themselves hire marketing and communications vendors and consultants, they are more likely to be loyal when offered transparency.
To further this point, 86 percent of Americans believe transparency from businesses is more important now than ever before. When companies communicate openly and develop a history of transparency, nearly nine in ten people are more likely to give them a second chance after bad experiences and 85 percent are more likely to stick with the company during crises.
Honest communication builds the foundation for improved public relations campaign results, as well as a better relationship between the brand and their public relations team. With that said, many public relations agencies over promise and under deliver, leaving the brand to feel like they have been deceived. This tends to happen when the agency’s business development team is uninvolved with the actual execution of the campaign.
This is best avoided when brands document clear goals and expectations at the beginning of the relationship with the member or members of the public relations team who are ultimately accountable for producing results – not just accountable for producing sales. Setting clear expectations and systems for tracking progress also keeps both the public relations team and the brand focused and working toward common goals, preventing either side from moving the goalposts in the midst of a campaign.
Public relations professionals with experience in the business should know that appeasing a client with false promises that are not deliverable is not a sustainable way to do business. Systems providing clarity, transparency and accountability make it nearly impossible for public relations teams to fall into that trap. Brands in in search of healthy, productive relationships with their outsourced public relations teams are best served working with agencies with such systems in place.
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Mikaila Cordeau is a public relations and content development intern at Flackable, a national, full-service public relations agency headquartered in Philadelphia. To learn more about Flackable’s Client Portal, please visit . Follow Mikaila on Twitter at .