Working with Cygnet PR – Guidelines for clients
If your project is chosen by the board of Cygnet PR to be a client we will expect certain things from you.
Just because the services Cygnet PR offers are free does not mean that there are no costs involved, some may be financial and some personal. Therefore it is important, if everyone is to benefit, that some issues are agreed from the outset.
Perhaps the first thing to say is that even though Cygnet PR does not charge for its support it aims to operate like any commercial PR consultancy. This is all part of trying to offer our students as realistic experience as possible. Whilst we aim to ensure Cygnet offers its clients a great service its primary reason for existence is to offer an opportunity for students to get real world experience on real world projects that will stand out on their CV when they graduate.
What you can expect from Cygnet PR
Cygnet PR is staffed and run entirely by students with some guidance and advice from the seasoned professionals who work at the University as tutors on their courses.
When a project is accepted by the board of Cygnet PR it will be allocated a team of students. The size of this team will vary depending on the scale of the project, but the minimum size will be two students. The team will most likely have a spectrum of expertise within it, ranging from third years who have been taught a variety of techniques and will have already delivered projects for external clients through Cygnet PR, to first years, eager to start putting into practice the concepts and tools of PR they will have been introduced to in their first months at Lincoln University.
Your team will first gather information about your project before developing a strategy to address your needs. From this they will work with you to create and agree a practical plan of delivery including a timescale and clear outcomes with you.
They will not undertake any work without your agreement. This means there is a particular responsibility on the part of you as clients to be responsive to the process of the creation, agreement and sign off of plans.
Once a programme of activity is underway the Cygnet team will maintain regular contact with you as the client to monitor progress and adjust the plans if required.
Our students come from all over the UK and abroad and most return home during the holidays between terms – please be aware of this when working up your plans for Cygnet projects.
If Cygnet PR is going to deliver a successful programme of PR support for you it is essential you are absolutely candid with the team assigned to you. Please be as open, honest and clear about your project what you hope to achieve and the challenges you face as possible. Your team will treat everything you say as “commercial in confidence” just as they would if they were working in a commercial PR consultancy.
It is important to remember though, that the students working in the Cygnet PR team are studying full time. They cannot take calls or deal with Emails when they are in lectures or the library and even when outside the formal learning environment they have a considerable workload they are juggling alongside their Cygnet PR projects. They will however respond as promptly as they can.
Face to face meetings are extremely important but are also a particular issue. Meetings during the working day (9am-5am Monday to Friday) may be problematic as our students have lectures and seminars to attend throughout the week. Please be as flexible as you can when agreeing meetings and please attend when they are organised.
Physically getting to and from meetings can be a problem for some of our students who are living on a budget and do not have their own personal transport . Therefore, whenever possible it would be helpful if meetings could be arranged to be held in the City, ideally at the University.
Please also understand that the University has a duty of care for its students and we instruct all students to take great care when attending external meetings. Students should never be expected to attend meetings alone and whenever possible meetings should be held in public places (The University has a number of spaces ideal for small meetings). Students will log the intended meeting place and client before they depart and check ibn on return. They are also instructed to refuse offers of transport, so please do not offer lifts in private vehicles to meetings.
Budget and resources
Many Cygnet PR projects are delivered to clients who are operating with extremely restricted funds, and if the brief is that the programme has to be delivered at zero cost that is what the team will do.
However is you do have a budget please ensure the students know what it is right from the start. They will never spend money without your approval, but it is essential that they know what budget if any does exist for the project. Typical costs incurred by projects can include small fees for the purchase of web addresses, printing costs and venue hire for events. If expenditure is required and agreed the students will work with you to ensure any purchasing is undertaken directly by a representative of the project.
Please remember too that public relations employs a wide range of resources. You may have people with skills the Cygnet team could employ, your project might have existing materials or tools such as social media or web sites they can use. You may have printed materials, style guides to follow or be part of a wider network which has to be taken into account when designing and delivering PR support.
The projects which have been most successful are those which have made the fullest use of the expertise and knowledge of the students, have harnessed their energy and enthusiasm and who have backed them up with support from their own staff and / or volunteers in delivering the work.
As with most things, the keys to success are co-operation and information.