Impact PR have got it sorted when it comes to knowing their audiences. The boutique agency has found a way to stand out in a very saturated market, and in doing so has fostered great client relationships with a host of awards to back up their success.
How have PR companies changed the way brands think about communicating?
Often clients who haven’t worked with PR can tend to see it as something of an afterthought. Once we have worked with brands over time we try to encourage them to bring us in at an early stage which means that they can take advantage of media coverage while the product or service is still new – and have a more integrated approach to their campaign.
The PR market is very heavily saturated, what does it take for your company to stand out among the crowd?
While on the face of it, it looks like there are lots of players in the industry I think what doesn’t get taken into account is that public relations has become very loosely defined in recent years, particularly with the rise of social media. At the moment a client might approach a PR agency to work on a range of services – anything from a street activation and managing their social platforms to generating news content and managing a media crisis.
What we have seen is that the New Zealand market is too small to specialise in and remain successful. At its heart we see ourselves as content creators, whatever platform that content is served on is irrelevant – as long as it meets the needs of the client and their target audience.
What do you personally think it takes to be an award-winning PR company?
This is an interesting one; while yes we have picked up a number of awards over the years (including a number of Cannes Lions), this has never really been our focus, nor do we consider this a metric of success for us. If anything we have seen examples in the marketing industry where an overriding focus on award wins can be a real distraction from achieving the client’s campaign objectives. We have a real sense of pride in the outcomes of our work and the repeat business that we have is the only recognition that we seek.
What does a successful campaign look like for you?
The most common objectives we see from clients are the building of brand awareness and support with sales.
While above-the-line creative ideas can help bring to life the new product or service, PR can work in tandem supporting the launch with credible third party endorsement in the form of news coverage or influencer engagement.
There are examples of where we work in isolation such as the recent launch of big-box retailer we managed. With last minute Council approval for the company to open, we launched a PR campaign on Friday afternoon which was picked up by all the major media outlets within the hour.
With only a public relations campaign to promote their opening, the next morning the company had 200m long queues of customers waiting to get in and an average sales transaction level significantly higher than their forecast. The client was thrilled that in the middle of an incredibly challenging retail environment PR was able to drive sales for them – literally overnight.
When did Impact start and what gap in the market did it fill?
We launched Impact PR as a boutique agency around 15 years ago originally intending to cater to a client base that saw the benefit of having only senior level support on their account. This drove higher levels of outcomes and has helped us keep some of clients since the agency’s inception.
How has the definition of PR changed since then?
The advent of digital media has really opened up the definition of PR. What was once a relatively clearly defined field where content was generated and pitched to traditional media has changed significantly – it is not the content generation aspect which has evolved but the potential platforms it can appear on has widened significantly.
What has had the biggest Impact on PR since Impact was founded?
When we first started this agency, if a journalist called to say they needed an image and were on deadline we would need to turn the car around and go back to the office and send it to them.
So although it seems ubiquitous now, it is fair to say the advent of cloud technology has been one of the biggest drivers of change for us.
How did Impact respond to that?
We were really early adopters of technology to help us drive more efficiencies from our business operations. As a boutique agency, we have only senior level staff which means we have relied on these systems to manage the functions an administrator might otherwise be needed for. It has allowed us to stay focused on client outcomes rather than paperwork.
What advice would you give to brands looking to get involved with a PR company?
Our advice to brand owners looking for PR is that there is a significant variation in the quality of service provision offered across the industry. Essentially anyone can put words on a page but that doesn’t necessarily translate into positive outcomes. Make sure the pricing model recommended by the agency (retainer vs project or campaign based) best suits your needs rather than the agency’s.
We would advise a client to look first at whether their agency is truly passionate about and understand their brand, then at the outcomes from similar projects in their industry.
From the outset, clients should have a reasonable understanding of what results to expect from a PR campaign and they should ask who will work on their project, making sure they have the most experienced consultants available dedicated to them.
This story is part of a StopPress series celebrating the ever changing PR landscape. To read more on Storyteller Month, click here.