Choosing the right PR agency is a crucial decision for your brand; some of these steps may help you identify which PR partner can be potentially perfect for you
In today’s highly communicative era, making tactical use of public relations has almost become a necessity. Be it a small business or an established brand, every company feels this challenge to find a suitable PR agency to look after their brand’s image and relations with the media. PR firms come in all shapes and sizes and therefore choosing a suitable one can be daunting.
To help you navigate through this maze and ease into the process, here are some tips which you could consider while identifying a relevant PR firm for your company.
1. Define your objectives
Before searching for Public firms, figure out your objectives, which you are trying to achieve. There can be multiple reasons for you to hire a PR agency such as you need to reach out to the media by launching a new brand/company/product or you are revamping your business into a new direction; you have a new corporate announcement to make or there is a major shift of management in your company.
Whatever the situation is, it is important to know about your objectives before going to find a PR firm. Having a clear vision about your objectives will help you shortlist the right PR partner, and it will also help the agency to understand your expectations.
So before going ahead to the next step, let’s begin with asking yourself, ‘What am I trying to achieve?’
2. Determine your PR budget
There are many PR agencies working in the communication industry having their own specialisations. Some of them work for big companies which have very high budgets for their public relations activities, and some are specialised in handling small size businesses like MSMEs and startups.
The agency you are hiring should come under your budget plan because it’s important to be cost effective for running PR campaigns in the long term. Creating a budget takes time and involves a careful review of your past budget allocation and events planned by your company in upcoming months.
Before nodding your head in agreement with a PR firm, analyse, decide and match your budget with them.
3. Do they understand your business?
Key to finding the relevant PR firm is to find one which understands your domain well. Assume you are a Fintech startup and you hired an agency which has significant experience in entertainment PR management. Does it make sense to you? Of course not.
If a PR agency understands the background and workflow of your business closely, then it would be easier for them to figure out the right strategies and media platforms for you. Past experience in your industry will help a PR agency to build relationships with relevant publications and reporters on the behalf of your company.
Ask a PR agency about their past work in the same industry as yours. If it’s a match, then proceed to the next step.
4. Track Record
It’s important to know about the track record of the PR firm before getting on board with them. You would find that some of the agencies may not be very forthcoming and even manipulate the data and show manufactured social media reports to claim the success.
That’s why digging the track record of the PR firm is an important step. You could talk to the clients for whom they’ve worked before and ask for feedback. Also, you can find testimonials, reviews and feedback about that PR firm on various forums like Quora, Google and Reddit.
It is also a good idea to speak about the PR firm with working journalists you know. They will be able to tell you the right feedback about their content quality and functioning.
5. What are your expectations?
Public Relations help you build and maintain good communication with the media and your customers. Before beginning the PR campaign, you may have a certain set of queries and expectations. It’s recommended to address these things before shortlisting a firm.
With your PR campaign, you expect brand visibility, coverage in publications, a positive image of your brand in public and customer attraction for your brand. While it is natural to expect all these things from a PR firm, it is also important to understand that the quality of visibility and outcome depends upon the quality of the event and news value of the information associated with it..
Successful public relations campaigns need active participation from your end. If you expect positive results, then you should be ready to provide quality information.
6. Results Oriented PR firm
Analysing the past results given by the PR firm is a crucial step here. Ask them about the best results achieved by them for any client from your industry.
To ensure the orientation of a PR firm towards results, you need to check out some details, such as
– Do they indicate a certain number of media coverage in a month or a week?
– Do they promise to give you a specific number of interview opportunities with the media?
– Do they provide services of media monitoring to track your media visibility?
A good PR firm has a sound PR plan and content strength to reach media with meaningful brand messages. The amount of coverage depends on the quality of content and news value of the brand announcement which we communicate with the media.
In this age of accountability, you can easily monitor the performance of your campaign on online/social media.
7. Media Connections
A suitable PR firm for your business understands your business, and they work like an extended arm of your team. You can ask them what type of publications they’re targeting on your behalf. They will represent your brand to the outside world, thus your reputation is in their hands.
You need to check if they are well connected with journalists, editors, industry experts, thought leaders, influencers and other PR agencies (for example, when you need help from a PR firm outside the city or country). The publications they are targeting should be related to your niche and their readers need to be your target audience.
8. Ensure Transparency
Accountability and transparency in the work is the cornerstone of professionalism. Look carefully at the proposal, terms and conditions and their pitch. During the proposal call, ask questions and see how they respond or take an interest in your queries. Keep the communication both sided and let them know what you think and what you want.
When you are short-listing a firm, meet them face to face. Ask them who will handle your business account and try to communicate with that person directly.
Hiring a PR firm for your business is a long-term affair, so there should be transparency and healthy communication between both.
9. Know your Involvement
PR is a business of communication, and communication starts with you.
You should know what they require from your side and what will be your participation while the campaign is running. You need to prepare and get ready with all requirements before beginning the campaigns.
Sometimes campaigns might delayed for sudden demands of anything from the agency’s side. You should look closely at every campaign and press releases from your end. You can even assign one of your team members to communicate with the PR firm for updates.
It’s important to involve yourself in this communication process, after all you will pay big bucks for it.
10. Know how they measure success?
Last but not the least, a right PR company will have a system of measuring success.
Before you finalise the name of a PR firm for your business, understand their reporting system and metrics. Do they provide you with any insights, reports of coverage or do you have to do it yourself?
There should be visibility regarding:
– How many premium publications will your press release touch?
– How many regional/local publications will you have access to?
– How will the news perform on Social Media?
– How news items are being distributed among bloggers/ Influencers?
In all, it’s important to examine critically before hiring the right PR firm for your business because it’s a matter of your brand reputation and a long-term association. As you can see, there are a lot of steps to follow before closing the deal with a PR agency. If you follow these steps from the beginning, you will definitely be able to choose the right partner for you.
Wish you a Happy Hiring!
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