There are countless PR agencies out there, with clients having a sea full of fish to choose from. This means that standing out from the rest is the route brands have to go to ensure success. So, how exactly can you ensure that your agency stands out?

media update’s Talisa Jansen van Rensburg spoke to Tracy Jones, MD of Positive Dialogue Communications, to find the answer.

You say that you have a very hands-on-approach with employees and clients, which sets you apart from other MDs within the industry. Why do you think this approach works so well?

My definition of being ‘hands-on’ is focusing on the positive relationships I have with our clients, and my team. My primary goal is for my clients to know that I’m constantly assessing their business challenges or needs, and we can quickly find answers and solutions through our collaborative relationship.

I like to constantly communicate with my clients about trends, changes in the industry as well as new opportunities we’ve identified. By having a deep understanding of their business needs, I can reach out to them when a certain tactic may not be yielding the results we were aiming for, and suggest an alternative option. By being dynamic, and constantly assessing the efficacy of our campaigns, we’re able to constantly deliver meaningful results that build trust.

With regards to my team, I have every confidence in their skills and professional ability to deliver on our client’s expectations. My responsibility to them is to support their continued career growth through training and mentorship, develop their personal leadership and ensure they maintain a good work / life balance. In our high pressure, adrenalin-fuelled industry, it’s important to give them the support and tools to work on the personal aspects of their lives in order to recharge and refresh their body, mind and spirits. [This allows them to] sustainably give their best efforts to our clients and our agency.

With two decades of experience in PR and communications, how do you think the industry changed over time, and how will it continue to change?

There have certainly been big changes in the last 20 years of the PR industry. But, I think we’re on the path to seeing some of the biggest, most exciting changes and adaptations in the industry right now.

Given the digital revolution we’re currently experiencing, with the shrinking of the media landscape, and the explosion of digital communication channels and platforms, now, more than ever, PR needs to have a finger on the pulse of the myriad of options available to clients to communicate directly with their target audiences.

Never before has PR been in this position of being able to create content and conversation, which we can re-purpose and amplify in such a myriad of ways across paid, earned, owned and shared channels — that reaches audiences where they want to be found.

You have been described as an ‘out-of-the-box’, creative thinker. How do you think people can cultivate that type of mindset?

The traditional way of doing things is over. There is no ‘cut and paste’ method of just doing what we’ve always done. We all have to become creative problem-solvers for our clients to move our industry forward.

Every client in every industry is trying to navigate their way in these incredibly tumultuous times. To deliver value, and show impact, we need to constantly look for new ways to unlock opportunities that connect with audiences.

PR pros, therefore, need to focus on creating contagious communication that surprises, entertains, educates, and inspires, This needs to be done in a way that adds value to the recipient in some authentic way for them to want to share it onwards, either digitally or by word-of-mouth endorsement.

How important do you think it is to be transparent in the PR industry?

Transparency is critical to building trust in the PR industry. Too many people have had their fingers burned through over-promising and under-delivering.

Transparency is threefold:

  1. You need to manage expectations upfront on what is possible through PR tactics and what is best suited to other tactics within the rest of the marketing toolbox.
  2. As an industry, PR pros need to hold themselves accountable for delivering communication as well as business results by giving clients qualitative and quantitative metrics to evaluate their campaigns. And, continue to evaluate campaigns on a monthly basis so that adjustments can be made in order to build further momentum.
  3. Transparency is also about being ethical about the brands you represent, and that the communication you amplify on their behalf is based on fact, data and insights.
What do you think is the importance of PR for brands?

Consumers [nowadays] want to engage with purposeful brands that are making a difference, and / or making a mark. PR, used effectively, can be a powerful communication tool in building brand awareness, as well as third-party endorsement and credibility. It can also educate and shape perceptions within various audiences about the brand’s personality and properties that establishes their industry leadership.

PR moves a brand from being purely transactional (sales-driven) to reflect a brand that authentically delivers their purpose and company values for both their internal stakeholders, as well as their customers. This is done in a meaningful and authentic way that results in long-term relationships.

Do you agree that PR pros need to become creative problem-solvers and leave the traditional ways of doing things in the past? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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Are you curious about how PR will change over the next year? Then be sure to read Where the future of public relations is headed in 2021.