PR Interview with Katie King, MD of Zoodikers
What’s been happening recently at Zoodikers?
We have just appointed one of the most experienced social business consultants in the UK. David Taylor joins us as head of social business to help clients create the right internal conditions for social media to work. Zoodikers has also moved into new offices, established an internal video production department and appointed a senior account director/marketing strategist. In addition, the team has won several major accounts including the launch of a new carer technology device and another to establish an online social consumer community for a global, blue-chip healthcare equipment provider.
What future plans do you have for the agency?
We hope to formalise our social media academy with approved courses and certification, to ramp up the c-suite social media strategy development consultancy, and move into new sectors, backed up with solid client situational case studies.
How does the agency structure its teams for client work?
Each account team consists of an account director, an account manager and two account executives who manage between four and five accounts each, depending on size of the retained account or project.
PR agencies are now competing against a whole range of communication specialists – from social and advertising agencies, to in-house teams and freelancers. How do you stand out from the crowd to win the pitch?
Zoodikers successfully combines traditional PR expertise with creative social media campaigns and, as a result, has established its niche where the two disciplines support each other and enhance the output of both.
When is it appropriate to say no to a client?
When what they propose is not in the best interests of their company. However, rather than saying "no", we say "how it could be improved". We do this on behalf of our clients as part of the account management process – and as a result our clients respect our advice and benefit from our expertise. We have a track record of long-term client relationships and many of our new clients are from direct client recommendations.
Growing and running a PR agency – what’s the secret to attracting the best talent and keeping clients happy whilst balancing the books?
Zoodikers employs ambitious, capable and self-motivated people who are constantly striving to prove their individual ability by delivering outstanding results for our clients. It’s important to give ambitious people room to grow, ownership of their own projects and the ability to have a creative input. We run a happy and supportive team. From intern to director, everyone’s opinions count – and often the freshest and most different ideas come from people unburdened by the shackles of years of PR conditioning.
What’s the best practice you’ve seen from a PR? And the worst?
Worst: pitching-in sales messages as news stories.
Best: developing campaign concepts which go on to improve peoples lives such as ‘The Big FM Conversation’ for ISS which culminated in top FM companies pledging 10,000 new apprenticeships and over 11,000 work inspiration placements by 2015.
How would you deal with the crisis management for a client with a reputation that has been shattered?
1. Build a complete understanding of how and where it went wrong
2. Work out who the stakeholders are with whom relationships need to be rebuilt
3. Develop a message matrix to address the concerns and issues of each group
4. Find the best spokespeople within the organisation, not necessarily the most senior, and provide broadcasting and media training
5. Develop relationships with media who are willing to deliver unbiased reporting
6. Engage with stakeholders socially, monitor and engage. Don’t get involved in online tussles – take conversations offline
7. Care – don’t just pay lip-service.
How do you ensure you create tangible results for the client? What methods and measurements do you use?
We set KPIs at the beginning of the retainer/campaign or project. We constantly monitor and adjust activity to ensure we stay on track to reach and exceed expectations.
We use both traditional editorial coverage message metrics combined with sophisticated social media analytical tools to show reach and engagement, among many other things.
What are your three tips/rules to building and maintaining strong relationships with journalists?
1. Be honest
2. Be prompt and reliable
3. Deliver interesting, well-researched, different and news-worthy stories.
How do you balance journalists’ needs with ensuring your clients get the right coverage?
Building relationships over time is always preferable – making the journalist's life easier by doing much of the groundwork, giving them factually correct and interesting content which fits with their editorial brief and appeals to their readership. If you scratch their back, they’ll scratch yours.
Katie can be found tweeting @katieeking.