Today The Times reports that MPs have criticised the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) for paying a leading PR agency more than £600,000 over the past two years.
While this is an eye-watering sum, the figure included an annual retainer and an additional sum for work related to the collapse of BHS.
While it is impossible to comment on whether the fees provided the PPF with value for money, the story does highlight the importance of proving your worth to clients. Somewhat ironically, the PR industry seems to suffer from an image problem and this may partly be because it is difficult to put a financial value on media coverage and other PR related activities.
So how can a PR agency provide clients with excellent ROI? Always be open from the start about expectations and set realistic goals which are frequently reviewed. Above all, keep lines of communication open, listen to clients and meet regularly so that you can really get to understand their businesses. (It is surprisingly how little face-to-face contact some agencies have with clients although I am proud that the PR agency I work with is very focused on regular client contact.)
In short, simple steps and procedures should ensure that PRs work effectively and the client receives a maximum ROI.
The Pension Protection Fund was attacked by MPs last night after The Times revealed that it paid a public relations firm more than £600,000 over the past two years. Lansons Communications is paid a £194,400 annual retainer by the fund, the pensions lifeboat for failed companies. Since January 2015 it has received another £249,200 in “additional payments”. The PPF is funded by a levy on final salary schemes. A significant part of the extra £249,200 related to work over the collapse of BHS. The BHS failure triggered a number of investigations, including a joint parliamentary select committee inquiry which took evidence from Alan Rubenstein, chief executive of the PPF. The fees were disclosed after a freedom of information request by The Times.