Your company has decided it is time to implement a PR plan. Maybe a plan already exists – it has been sitting on a shelf waiting for resources to implement it. Perhaps it is time to re-brand your company to adjust to changes in your industry. It could be that something your company did went awry and you need a crisis team to manage negative publicity and navigate you back into safer waters. Either way, it helps to know what to expect and what to ask for.
Not all PR firms do the same thing, nor are they the same size. One PR firm might have 5 people and they specialize in crisis messaging; another firm has dozens of people and they will support your sales team with an effective marketing program; finally, a third firm might be one person who will drive website traffic through SEO-friendly content.
In order to pick the right PR firm and partner, ask yourself a few questions:
- What is the goal? Both you (their client) and the PR firm have to be clear about expectations, goals, and capabilities. You might value lead generation above media exposure or marketing optimization above event management. Know what matters to you most and why before you go shopping for a PR team.
- What type of services do you need? If your business will need help with content creation, video production, or sales and marketing integration, make sure you are looking at agencies that provide all of those PR services.
- What credentials matter most? When you ask agencies about their success stories, ask about market experience, but don’t ignore a firm’s knowledge of businesses of similar size and trajectory as yours. You might also press agencies about their track record of overcoming challenges with creative solutions.
- What are your resources? This relates to budget, but also to your own bandwidth to support a full-scale PR program. Do you have the time and resources to commit to supporting a firm on a daily basis? Do you have an in-house communications team who could use some bolstering? A reliable PR firm should be able to tell you what they can do in relation to what you can afford and offer.
- What size agency do you want? Freelancers can be a tempting compromise between no outside help and a full-fledged agency. Many freelancers are accustomed to being a ‘jack of all trades, but a one-person operation cannot match the impact of a team of dedicated experts.
The most important thing to remember is to be open about your company’s wants and needs. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ firm or agency. It could be that some firms exclusively work with large companies, and others are more ‘boutique’ and offer specialized services. You may want to consider working with an agency on a project-by-project basis before hiring them full time.
It is not an easy process to hire a PR firm, but these tips make the process less complicated.