Public Relations assesses the public’s perceptions and mindsets, finds similarities between those findings and your brand’s values, message and promise, and then executes a plan aimed at the public’s awareness and acceptance of your brand.
Sounds a lot like Marketing, right?
That’s why Public Relations should play an important role in your Marketing Strategy.
Some business owners take on the responsibility of PR; however, most find that hiring a PR firm brings the most notable results.
Let’s talk about what you need to know before choosing a PR agency for your brand.
Public Relations: How to Select your Representative
PR firms aren’t one-size-fits-all. Nor does each one fall into to a Good or Bad category.
Experiencing Public Relations success is largely about choosing the right PR agency, for the right reasons.
Let’s get specific about how to choose the right PR firm:
- Make sure your goals match. What goal do you have for your brand’s PR? Do you want to build general brand awareness, establish yourself as an expert in your field, build trust, build awareness of a new product or service, get attention for your actions and initiatives…or something else? Know, through your branding and marketing strategies, what you want to achieve. Then look into each PR firm’s strengths (as communicated by them and their past clients) and make sure they support your goals.
- Set a budget. How much can your brand afford to spend? This will include retainers, incidentals, overages and other expenses. What’s your baseline ideal investment and how much are you willing to spend should a spectacular opportunity come along? Do the math now and share that information with your PR representative, so that you’re “prepared for anything.”
- Decide what size PR firm is right for your brand. Large firms boast benefits like global reach, huge networks, and lots of WOW moments, whilst smaller firms specialise in things like personal relationships, local cultural know-how and niche expertise. Much of this decision will rely on budget; however, knowing what you want to accomplish is a big deal, too.
- Choose your internal and external mix first. Even if you go outside your brand to hire a PR agency, the representative(s) within that agency will be working directly with your in-house marketing and/or PR departments. In other cases, the PR representative will simply work with the brand’s owner or CMO. Know what you can afford and how much control you want to send outside the brand. Then, choose a firm that is accustomed to doing business this way, and never forget to test the chemistry between all parties. Hiring a PR firm is like hiring a full-time employee—make sure it’s going to work…before it doesn’t.
- Start with a list of potential firms. Know what you’re looking for (your brand’s goals, expectations, work situation, etc.) and ask a number of PR firms (five-ten) for proposals. From the proposals you receive, choose your top three and then invite them to pitch to a room of all your brand’s people who will be involved with PR. Always insist that the representative who will handle your account be sent for the pitch; otherwise, you could become attached to the idea of one person, but have to work with another. This will require an investment of time; however, the process will help to ensure that you choose the right firm for your brand.
- Choose the firm that took the time to know your brand…before hiring. Some PR firms will conjecture as to what they’ll do, or will make promises that aren’t specific to your brand. If an agency actually works up a plan (or a portion of a plan) that shows how they’ve researched your brand and its audience, then you’ll know that they’re not only interested in your industry, but that they’re interested in your business and in what they can do for it.
In conclusion, it’s important for you to understand that the PR firm you hire isn’t going to exist on the outside of your brand. It is, however, going to work at the core of your brand, with your team…as a part of your team. As time goes by, you’ll notice that the right PR representatives will start to become part of the fabric of your brand.
This is why it’s so important to choose your PR firm wisely.
Have more questions about how to choose a PR agency? Or are you looking for suggestions to add to your list of possibilities? Contact me here, and we’ll talk.