SaaS CMOs: Are you leveraging your PR agency partnership to the fullest?
In this episode of SaaS Half Full, Lindsey Groepper speaks with Kimberly Jefferson, EVP at BLASTmedia.
Kimberly, a BLASTmedia team member for over ten years, shares what makes a fruitful client-PR agency relationship. She answers questions like who should manage the agency relationship, how to level-set expectations, and what makes a partnership go from good to great. Listen to the full episode to hear tips on how marketing teams can get the most out of their PR agency investment.
Who manages the relationship?
The basis of any good relationship is communication and it’s imperative you have people dedicated internally to give the agency the attention it needs to succeed. In larger SaaS organizations with an extensive marketing team, Kimberly suggests appointing a PR Manager or Communications lead as the day-to-day contact, and also having an executive-level contact (oftentimes a CMO or VP of Marketing) to provide critical access to business information such as financial roadmaps, board discussions, and overarching executive goals.
“Our best relationships are with like-minded PR persons inside the organization,” says Kimberly. “We can also work with someone else on the marketing team, but they do need to have a grasp on what media relations can do for their business and what we need to do our jobs best…Another thing we need from our contact, besides understanding PR, is knowing what’s going on inside the business because PR can’t work in a silo.”
Your role in nurturing (or killing) the PR pipeline
Similar to building a sales pipeline, building PR momentum involves opening opportunities with the media, delivering what you said you would, and following up to get the “close” (e.g. a story runs) — with many custom steps in between, as no two media opportunities are the same.
Where your PR agency team gets frustrated is when campaign objectives have been agreed upon, but they aren’t given what they need to make it happen:
- Passionate CEO/founder spokesperson lacks availability — PR agency tees up interviews and contributed content opportunities, but CEO can’t make the time. The solution for this is to identify a deeper bench of internal subject matter experts (SMEs) to participate in press opportunities.
- Lack of trust — The agency is suggesting bold headlines or securing opportunities, but you don’t trust they are the right opportunities for the brand and you pass on them. Trust that your agency is bringing you good opportunities, as even the perceived smaller ones are being pursued for a reason and have value.
- Approval times are slow — PR agencies move at the speed of media, which is fast and furious. Whether it’s a reactive opportunity to add commentary with a 1-hour turnaround, or a bylined article needing approval in two weeks, the approval graveyard is where opportunities go to die. Define a clear approval process at the start, including timelines and who internally is involved.
While Kimberly mentions that the CEO is likely not involved on a day-to-day basis with the agency, she says internal marketing-team contacts and the agency ultimately want the same thing from the CEO: “[An understanding] that PR affects every part of their business…it affects employee retention and investor relations and everything that happens.”
“PR doesn’t work if it’s forced to be a robot-marketing function that just repeats key messages and talks about what salespeople are talking about. It only works if there’s a vision and a boldness and an ability to get outside of the box of what is just straight-up product marketing.”
For more of Kimberly’s insights, listen to Episode 326 of SaaS Half Full.