No Pressure, Springboard!

September 13th, 2010

Last October, Jennifer Walzer, CEO of Backup My Info! (aka BUMI) blogged about how she managed her own PR and discussed her formula for success, which yielded some very nice media coverage over the years. In that post, there were several comments, including one from me where I provided a few additional PR tips for “do-it-yourselfers.”

Fast-forward eight months…

Jennifer and her team decided to re-think their self-service PR approach in an effort to generate more awareness for the BUMI brand.  She outlined the rationale to leverage outside resources in a follow-up post, “I’ve Changed My Mind About PR,” which garnered a flurry of feedback from both sides of the client/agency ecosystem.

Among the agencies short-listed, we ultimately won BUMI’s business, a three-month trial to “test the PR waters.” This was great news, right? Absolutely! However, the deal came with a few caveats. First, Jennifer indicated she was going to blog about her agency experience.  Second, her team insisted that we agree to several service level agreements, such as arranging “at least 12 speaking engagements and/or conversations with media outlets.”

Even though BUMI understood there were no guarantees, as the nature of PR is uncontrollable, built on relationships, and ultimately earned, it was important for them to establish some baseline metrics.  It was equally important to us that her team understands the process of PR and what is required to support a successful engagement (message, client references, accessibility, and flexibility to review materials and participate in brainstorming discussions, interviews, etc.). After all, while BUMI enjoyed PR success on its own, it was venturing into new territory in hiring its first agency.

While Jennifer’s decision to utilize an agency can be construed by some as validating the value of a PR firm, BUMI’s metrics might also fuel the discussion around performance-based approaches (and whether they can be effective). The key is building client trust and managing expectations.

Since Jennifer’s post, the PR world seems to be watching as evidenced here and here. And I think Kevin Pedraja, Vice President at Sterling Communications frames it the best:

“Speaking of which, let’s hope her new PR firm performs as promised. While Walzer’s post is undoubtedly going around the PR-o-sphere today as a much needed shot in the arm, if her agency fails to live up to her expectations (or fails to set them properly) she could come back with another post about why PR agencies aren’t worth it after all. So, no pressure guys…”

As of today, we are approaching the midpoint of the trial and so far, things are going very well. In addition to moving the needle on the metrics, I believe BUMI has a new appreciation for the value of working with an agency and is doing a great job keeping pace with our process and timeline.

At some point, I am sure Jennifer will share her experience and lessons learned in her blog. I will do the same, so stay tuned.

Update: On September 27, Jennifer posted a follow-up, “Working with a Public Relations Firm.” In it, she announced BUMI is extending our engagement.

Domenick Cilea

Domenick founded Springboard in 1995. When he is not working on marketing, PR, branding or content strategy, Domenick can be found in a gym, on the road or pool training to survive his next triathlon.

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