Business Planning For Your PR Agency, 2014
Most public relations and communications agency owners and leaders are about to dive into business planning for 2014. So I’m sharing my guest post from CommPRO.biz about kicking your year into action. It contains four steps you can take to make 2014 your most successful one yet. Remember, the butt you kick must be your own. And it’s worth it!
Agency Management: Kicking Your Year Into Action
If you’re an agency owner or leader, ‘tis the season to look back at last year and more important, look forward and plan for your firm’s future success in 2013. Using this time effectively will be time well spent. Here are four must-take steps I recommend to all my agency clients at this time of year:
1) Look Back, Identify, and Write Down What You Did Right and Wrong In 2012: Writing down what you did right will get you to do more of the same, and help you to inspire your team to do so as well. Acknowledging your missteps, whether it was losing an account, having a key staffer depart, not taking action when you should have, or missing a business or industry trend, can help you be more successful in 2013. There are no failures if we learn from our errors. The only failure is erring, but not learning from our mistakes and changing course.
2) Write Your Business Development Plan: One of your key responsibilities as agency owner/leader is to drive new business. If you’re being passive, and depending on RFPs and even referrals, are you truly fulfilling your obligations? Not in my opinion. It’s time to take action. Step One: Write the plan. (And no, “It’s in my head” doesn’t count!) The very act of doing so greatly increases the chances that you’ll secure the type of business that will help you achieve your income goals and fulfill your agency vision. (You have articulated your income growth goals, haven’t you?) In my view, agencies are like sharks, in that sharks must keep swimming to live, and agencies must grow to survive.Why? A key reason is that some firms lose business through no fault of their own: a new vice president of corporate communications or perhaps a new CMO with deep relationships with another agency joins the client, or a major client’s budget is greatly reduced, or worse, simply vanishes. A robust new business acquisition effort is the best way to offset these potential losses, or better yet, to reach one’s income growth goals.
3) Write Your Agency Marketing-Engagement-PR Plan: If you’re one of those agency leaders who claims “Oh, we’re too busy getting attention for our clients, we don’t have time to do so for our agency,” I’m calling “BS!” Ditto if you use the “Shoemaker’s Children” excuse. Not having a written, ongoing plan to reach and attract your target clients—which you would have identified as part of #2 above—is taking a passive approach to what must be an active endeavor. So write the plan. Then fine-tune it. Once. Don’t seek perfection, which for many is an excuse not to take action. Implement the plan. You can always course-correct after one quarter. Remember, you’re the account executive for the agency’s most important client: your agency!
4) Start, Reinvigorate, Or Expand The Agency Training Program: Training can have a number of positive impacts on your agency. First, one of the keys to profitability is having staff at the lowest possible billing levels do the work, provided that they’re qualified. Training helps assure staffers can take on tasks that were previously handled by their supervisors. Second, training, when done internally, is a great way to share the firm’s “intellectual capital,” allowing teams to implement Best Practices that have been forged over time. Third, training from external sources provides new and updated guidance and fresh thinking. Finally, if your agency is staffed with many Millennials—and these days, which agency isn’t?—you should know that this generation expects that their employment “contract” includes your enhancing their skills and knowledge, even if they won’t stay at your agency as long as your Gen Xers and Baby Boomers did.
So look back, and more important, look forward to your agency’s future: one that’s robust, focused, and healthier, because you kicked things into action!
What else are you doing to make 2013 your best year ever?