Top Mistakes PR Agency Owners Make that are Costing Them Time, Revenue (and Their Sanity!)

Nov 13, 2019

I grew my agency through trial and error and I made lots of mistakes. And many agency owners are making these same mistakes. It’s costing them money, time, clients and revenue. 

Here’s a chance to see if you’re making any of these mistakes and then try to fix them.

Here are the mistakes you need to avoid.

1. Tell the What but Not the How

It’s a big mistake if you are sharing strategies in your proposal. Sometimes it can be tempting to do this because you want to dazzle a potential client. If you’re on a discovery call with your ideal client you may feel the only way they’ll hire you is to show them every strategy and idea you have for their business. 

But you end up giving away your secret sauce for free. You’re telling the client that your ideas, your approach, and expertise are worthless because you’ve just given them your entire playbook for nothing.

Only give away just enough to show that you know what you’re doing and that you’re the expert they need. 

Never give away a detailed strategy where a client can take it and run with it. 

If a potential client starts to ask you to put together a proposal with your strategies, you can feel confident to say no. Explain that you can put together a proposal to show them the broad strokes of how you would approach their account. You can share the results you got for other clients and talk about how those results would look for them. But always reserve your strategy for when you start working with them on a retainer. 

Any client who is serious about hiring an agency will respect your answer. Don’t worry about losing business if you don’t give away your strategies. Usually, clients who want it all up front will turn out to be a nightmare. 

Related: How to Your PR Agency Stand Out and Easily Get Clients 

2. Pivot to a Value-Based Pricing Model

Trading dollars for hours will never allow you to grow and scale your agency. The pro’s charge based on value and the results they bring. 

Even if you are considering working for a retainer and you’re calculating the number of hours the project will take, you’re still doing a dollars per hour calculation. 

You want to pivot to a mindset that is value-based. Think about the value and the results you will generate for the client and what it would be worth to them. 

Don’t make the mistake of trading dollars for hours. The Value-based pricing will help you scale your business to the next level.

3. Stand Behind Your Rates

The third mistake you may be making is offering discounts. 

Out of fear, you may think some work is better than nothing and then you discount your rates. But you need to realize the value of your expertise and stand behind the rates you know you deserve.

Sometimes I put in a negotiating buffer in the proposal. But for us the more we charge for our services and the higher our retainers, the less likely clients are to come back and negotiate. If you want to bring in a higher caliber of clients it starts with charging higher rates. Very little negotiating will take place with high-end clients.

If a client starts out with low investment in your services, they’re not seeing the value that you offer. I promise you 100% of the time that your lowest paying client will be your biggest nightmare. 

When you discount, you're setting yourself up for attracting lower caliber clients. They second guess your expertise and it’s a horrible way to kick off a relationship with a client.

Related: 3 Reasons It’s Important to Know Your Why

4. The Riches are in the Niches

The fourth mistake you may be making is trying to serve everyone. You may be thinking that the more industries you serve and the more services you offer will leave you with more opportunities. But what the pros know is that the riches are in the niches. 

When you offer all of the things and you feel that you need to support everyone, you end up serving no one. The pros know that when you niche down and develop more extensive expertise, you become known as the go-to in your industry. 

That means you can charge premium rates. You will attract a better caliber of clients. All the best clients in the industry you're serving with a specific, deeper expertise have bigger budgets. The agencies well known for a specific service attract the best clients because they want an experienced, top-notch professional.

I believe if you’re a generalist, nobody will ever seek you out. You don’t have to choose a laser-focused niche and only serve that. For me, in my industry, we first became well known for a children’s brand. We also serve beauty and cosmetics and the health and wellness industry. And I have billion-dollar brands as clients. The same is possible for you. 

And I tell you all of that because we became known for those three niches and those clients seek us out. 

When you are the go-to agency, your dream clients seek you out.

5. Share Your Workload

The fifth mistake that I don’t want you to make is doing all the things yourself. 

You may feel like you have to be doing everything in your business and that clients expect all the work to come from you. Especially if you have this feeling that you sold them on your expertise. You can’t grow and scale your agency doing all-the-things yourself. 

What the pros know is you can't work on your business, your strategy, client development, and your overall growth path for your business when you’re too busy with client work. 

The less you do the more you make. The more you outsource, the more you will make in your business.

Build a team you can rely on. They’ll make your life easier and do great work when you vet them properly. If you do everything yourself you will burn out.

This is the business model that has worked for me. The reason I share my entire business, my whole framework, and everything that is working and not working, is because I want to give you a roadmap for a business that serves you. I want you to love your business and the clients you work with. And I want you to bring in a great income too. 

You can be in control of your time and who you work with. You can build a business that serves the life you want to live.

If you would like to know more about my business model, contact me at [email protected].