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If you’re an accounting firm in a position to work with an outside PR agency, good for you! Working with a PR firm is a great way to expand your own firm’s reach, showcase your thought leadership, and create content through media placement for your website and social media.
Clips can be invaluable pieces of collateral when going out on pitches and create instant credibility. Just keep in mind that most PR firms are not magic makers and will succeed only if the direction is clear and expectations are managed.
As a journalist who went in-house at a midsized accounting firm and ran the day-to-day relationship with our PR firm, I can tell you this – be firm, be real, and make sure everyone is on the same page with deliverables. Here are five tips to consider when bringing on a PR firm.
• Know what you want. Seriously. Are you looking to raise your profile in the media? Do you need help refining your brand message? Do you need media coaching? Content creation? Assistance de-escalating a potential crisis? These are all different things. Think about what your goals and objectives are before getting you start interviewing candidates. It will save you time and energy in the end.
• Decide on deliverables early. Will your firm make a set number of pitches to the media? Will they target (and hit) a number of placements? Will they send you a placement and clip report quarterly? Yearly? Negotiate this up front and get it written into the contract. I recommend weekly meetings with your PR team so they can keep you updated on their activity. It’s not enough to say “we want the program to be successful.” Success, it should go without saying, means very different things to different people. Be clear about what you expect when, and get rid of any confusion.
• Know your partners’s skill set. We all want to showcase our partners as thought leaders and exceptional speakers and writers. That said, partners have different skills. Some will be ready to speak with members of the media, others won’t. Some will have no problem whipping up a bylined article, others would rather stick to the numbers. That’s OK. Figure out who does what best and use that information to build your program.
• That said, train your partners. I can’t stress this enough. Reporters want information. Your partners and experts need to know how to talk to them. Long, rambling stories are often not what journalists want. Make sure they answer the questions they are asked. Short, concise answers work best. Let your partners know that they may get questions beforehand, they may not. They may have an opportunity to fact check, they may not. This is all part of working with the media. And remember: Be accessible (reporters often work on short deadlines) and dependable – always, always, always keep any commitments you make with a journalist. You want to build your credibility, not disappoint and be unreliable.
• Have a realistic budget. We all know budget concerns are real and accounting firms in particular are conservative when it comes to marketing. If you are a midsized accounting firm, expect to pay at least $10K a month for a high level media relations program. Most PR firms will want to put an executive (managing director or higher) on the account and if they don’t, consider that a red flag.
Working with a PR firm has its advantages, but only if you are prepared. Be sure to vet your prospective team carefully and know what you want. Remember, it’s a partnership – set the tone for a collaborative relationship, create milestones for success, keep those lines of communication open and you’ll be off to a great start!
Love it or hate it, Corporate America is a great place for people to go and learn. It’s a breeding ground for power plays, ego baiting, personality conflicts, and competition. In other words, it’s an opportunity for some serious growth.
But when you’re operating under “old school” philosophies - aka the traditional 9 to 5 grind, complete with lengthy commute, surrounded by gray walls with no windows for hours on end, and you spend more time with your colleagues than your loved ones, it can lead to major overload – emotionally, physically, and spiritually – no matter how much you appreciate your job.
Many companies are reactive and operate on fear – despite their (sometimes) best intentions. This we know. Unfortunately, management passes this down to every layer in the organization. This then manifests into indignant attitudes of those on the ground with fear and shame hanging close by.
The expectation of “do everything now” can exacerbate the anxious, rush the creative process into mediocrity, and result in an authoritarian undercurrent that just turns off employees and prospective talent alike.
A pressure cooker environment stirs up emotions and old patterns but it also accelerates insights if you are aware and able to catch them as they emerge.
Healthy boundary setting, more consistent self-advocacy, direct communication, and empathy can be the result of learning to see the bigger picture and take on a warrior stance. There is always opportunity to grow – even in a less than ideal environment - and many people pass it by.
As a sensitive person, living in New York City presents its challenges. I need day-to-day flexibility and exercise; a vibrant office aesthetic; and access to nature. I feel better that way, am more grounded, and can bring more of my authentic sensibilities to what I am doing. This should be non-negotiable, but it ends up falling to the side because of my pattern of people pleasing.
Springtime naturally lets us see things with fresh eyes. Those of us working the same schedule as the seasons change can do little things that welcome in the new, while letting the old fall away. This can feel empowering, inspiring, and provide relief to the hamster-wheel mentality. Consider these ways to detox and rejuvenate:
• Take a break mid-day to exercise. Whether that be a nearby gym or a brisk walk outside, move your body. Breaking a sweat will shift your head and energy. Thirty minutes is all it takes.
• Change your routine in the morning. Take a different route, walk a few extra blocks, start writing “morning pages,” or take a few minutes to set your intention for the day. I have a “morning before my morning,” so I feel like I have more ownership over my day.
• Relate to your colleagues differently. Notice the dynamics with certain people and if they aren’t as positive as you’d like, make small adjustments to how you interact. They may not change, but your reactions to them might.
• Pay attention to what attracts you. Whether you’re drawn to a particular book, article of clothing, piece of art, or TV show. Allow yourself to indulge in your own tastes. Sometimes you will find they are very different from what you have known. Let that be welcome.
• Rethink time. Many of us have very scheduled lives. If you’re someone who is chronically late, think about why that’s happening. If you always arrive 15 minutes early, ask yourself what would happen if you were just on time. Shake things up a bit.
• Allow for change. Change happens in different ways – sometimes abruptly and other times incrementally. Watch what claims you are making about your experience. Ask yourself where they come from and if they are true today.
While routine and work hours may bog you down, you ultimately have control over your own life. What can you do to experience it differently? Remember what Wayne Dyer said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”