Public relations is a great way to keep your business in front of the eyes that matter, your target audience. Are you thinking of hiring a PR firm? If so, here are some things to consider when weighing your options.
- How well do they know your industry? This is critical if you are trying to reach certain publications or get speaking engagements within your industry. Choosing a PR firm that is well versed in not only the who and the what, but the where and the why will go a long way in helping you get noticed. They should be able to tell you which publications you should be targeting and have relationships with journalists and editors at those publications. They should also know the lay of the land regarding speaking opportunities so that they can bring you opportunities to get exposure to the right audience at the right time.
- Do they have any conflicting client relationships? Your PR firm should have your best interest in mind. It is hard for them to do this if they are also representing your competition. Make sure you choose a PR firm that has integrity and will only represent one client in your category. This will go a long way in making sure that they are keeping their eye out for you, and you only!
- Does their style match yours? This one is a little harder to judge right away, but it is important that you partner with a PR firm that has a style or personality similar to your company. If you are a small to medium sized business, going after a huge PR firm might not be the best fit. Similarly, if your company is ultra conservative, partnering with a PR firm who is more progressive might not work either. Questions you can ask: “Describe your firm’s culture” or “What are your firm’s core values”. If their answers sound similar to how you would answer the question, you may have a match!
- Can they help you meet your PR goals? Hopefully you have base-level goals about your PR program, and your PR firm should be able to help you take those goals, expand on them and grow your PR program into more than you thought it could be. You don’t want a firm that is just there to write a press release now and then, they should be proactively looking for opportunities for you to increase exposure such as awards, editorial opportunities, speaking engagements and more.
- Get references and check results. This is probably the most important of all the tips, after all, the firm you are choosing could be great in other areas, but if they don’t have the track record of getting results, you might be wasting your time and your money. Ask for a list of client references, make the calls, get feedback. Also ask for how they plan to measure success. Make sure that they have the tools in place to not only get results, but also report on those results so that you have key performance indicators and you can judge overall ROI.
These tips will help guide you to starting a dialogue that will hopefully lead to finding a great PR partner. Of course you will still have to discuss budget, resources and timing, but if the basics are there, you might have just found a PR firm that can help you take your PR to the next level. As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions and I’d love to hear your comments!
by Sara Callahan