We have finally signed off on the site design – it is exactly what we wanted and I am really glad I invested the additional resource into making sure it was perfect! So, with the site ready to go live we were ready to begin our major PR push. This didn’t go exactly to plan as we sat down to establish the final commercials with Woods PR . . .
From the point of company formation, we always prioritised PR as one of the most important activities in our marketing budget; therefore, over the past few months we have briefed and met with a number of PR agencies. In the most part, these meetings have left us feeling de-motivated. Then we met with Mary Woods – CEO of Woods PR – and we felt that we had finally found an agency that understood our brand and have the knowledge and experience to find the best route to market for our company.
We were in the final stages of negotiation and had a meeting to finalise the commercials, unfortunately as a result of that meeting we have decided to walk away. Ultimately, the main reason for the collapse of the relationship was a lack of communication.
When we initially briefed the agency, we made our budget and the return on investment we expected, extremely clear, and they appeared to agree. However, the commercials they offered at the beginning of the deal, compared to what they were then demanding, were miles apart.
From my experience of working in the beauty PR industry for a number of years, I was well aware of what activity would secure the most coverage of a new brand launch. Therefore, in order to keep costs down, it was agreed that I would complete a lot of the pre-launch activity myself – with the agencies guidance. Consequently, I sent over numerous press releases and ideas for them to progress and was disappointed to find out that nothing had been done with any of them. While this was not the best start to the meeting, I also believe that the agency made a number of key mistakes in their negotiation.
Most importantly, they completely overestimated the strength of their position; they thought that as PR was so important to our initial marketing plan and we were so close to launch, they were irreplaceable. I have noticed that this is the way many larger corporations treat SME’s.
Secondly, they established from the start of the meeting that they were completely unwilling to negotiate and that their offer was final. This is a mistake I have seen many business professionals make in a negotiation. If you don’t give your opponent any other options other than to walk away from the whole deal, it likely that they will and we did!
It is a shame we wasted valuable marketing time, however, we are now more confident than ever that we can make a success of our business ourselves and while we will probably outsource some PR and Marketing activity, we have learnt that it is vital to stay involved in all areas of the business – even if you are paying someone else to manage them.