If you own a business, you will likely have heard fascinating things about Public Relations (PR) and how it can increase awareness of a company’s products or services. Your peers may have also told you that it has more trust worthiness than advertisement and it is impossible to disregard the influence that PR has on media. You know you want to try PR, but may have difficulty understanding how to go about it.
PR is not just a financial investment; it is an investment in your entire company’s time.
Finding the appropriate PR agency for your company can be exceedingly time-consuming. Here is a consideration – solicit a few referrals from people you respect and more importantly who have had past experiences with a PR agency. They can reflect upon the strengths and weaknesses of the respective agencies, which is something that may not be visible in a PR sales presentation.
Once you have a decent pool of companies to scrutinise, you can consider the following five aspects before recruiting a PR agency:
1. Agency’s location
Hiring a local PR agency makes sense if your business does not have a national presence. For example, if you are running a London based business then it is admissible to find a PR firm in London to help you grow your business.
This is important as forming relationships lies at the heart of public relations. The people involved in the local PR community have strong ties with the local media. They know the television producers and reporters. An out-of-town PR agency may have contacts, but not strong local relationships.
Therefore, it makes more sense for a local to come up with a plan to promote and market the company.
2. They offer realistic goals and results
Once you start your PR agency hunt, some companies will promise you astonishing results immediately. They will offer you placements in popular television shows or featured articles in leading newspapers. It is tempting to fall into this trap when you have a promising product or company.
However, any agency that promises you instant results is not being honest with you. Therefore, go with the company that offers you more realistic and strategic expectations. The goals mentioned above are undoubtedly achievable, but through a consistent approach as you need time to present yourself as a strong leader in your industry. PR can be a slow burner when you are placed as the new up and comer. This is not to say that overnight success stories only happen in the movies. They exist in real life too, but are not built around plans that promise a client the moon and stars.
3. Promised results are measurable
The importance of measuring PR results is unquestionable as a number of agencies con their clients. Therefore, as you meet with your potential PR agencies, ask them to demonstrate how they measure their results. If they provide detailed examples with multiple layers of results and reports they would be generating, then you are on the right path.
However, if they say something ambiguous such as, “you will see an upsurge in your clientele,” you are better off leaving their office. The reason is that the reach of press releases, contributed content and other tactics is measurable and you want a PR agency that will make the effort to deliver the results to you.
4. The PR agency offers innovative insights on increasing your visibility.
It is a given that any seasoned PR firm has decades of relevant experience. Therefore, it is expected that they will give you new ideas on how your company will gain attention. However, if you only hear them murmuring things such as “I totally agree with your thought,” consider avoiding them. As they do not challenge your strategy or advise you on the best way to bond with your audience, they might preach what they perhaps do not practice.
Although online reviews and testimonials offer a quick way to analyse many agencies, they don’t really inform you about the character of the company. Remember, reviews are only used as a preliminary selection process and meeting in person is the recommended way to learn about the analytical capacity of a PR agency.
5. They suit your budget
If you are a foresighted business owner, then you know that being cheap is not the way to go when making one of the most crucial investments that all businesses need today.
Therefore, be generous with your budget, but do consider the following services before paying good money:
- Media relations
- Social media
- Spokesperson training
- Internet reputation management
- Company naming and branding
- Public speaking engagements
- Thought leadership
If you take the above advice into thoughtful consideration, finding a PR firm to work with will be a much easier process.