On Linkedin, there are more than 12,000 public relations agencies listed. Choosing a single PR firm among all these options can seem daunting.
However, with a couple of tips, you'll be able to differentiate between amateur firms and those that will give you real results. Not all PR firms are created equal. You want the best, but you'll want someone affordable as well.
The more you understand how a PR agency works the better you'll be able to choose the best option and value for your business.
These are 7 Things You Should Know Before Hiring a PR Firm
1) Understand Your Own Objectives
The very first step before you even begin to look at PR agencies is creating and understanding your own goals.
If you don't know what you want, either two options will occur. First, you won't be able to explain your needs right, and you doom the PR relationship to fail from the start.
Second, the firm can take advantage of your lack of goals and do what they want and think is best. This ultimately will benefit them in the long-run, not necessarily your business.
As a result, you need to have clear goals that you can measure. Do you want more coverage, brand awareness or sales? Specifying your goals will help both you and the PR agency you choose to succeed.
2) Know How They Measure Success
Speaking of success, you also need to understand how they value success. An old myth used to go around, that you could never truly know how successful PR firms are because of the nature of their work.
That's not true. Now PR firms should be able to provide you with data and analytics to document the success of the project.
If the agency shies away from providing you with concrete results, you should do more research on them.
3) Do They Value Transparency
Over the last couple of years, there has been a shift in values in the PR world. In the past, public relations professionals have been known to inflate or spin their words to make things sound better than they are.
This ruined relationships between the public relations industry and the journalism industry.
However, changes in mentality and values are once again aligning these industries. When looking for a PR firm, you need to make sure they are on the right side of the change.
You'll want a team that is transparent and trustworthy. This will help your business to be more credible in the eyes of the public as well.
4) Research Their Reputation
One of the ways you can tell if a firm is trustworthy is to learn about their reputation.
See what others in your sphere are saying about them. Just choosing the biggest and loudest agencies in the business, isn't always the best choice.
The best people to talk with are the clients. The PR agency should be willing to give your clients that will speak well of them.
If the clients are willing, take the time to learn about what they liked and what they didn't.
5) What Services Do You Want
Public relations is always changing. For example, just check out these influencer marketing trends for 2018. The public relations industry used to work exclusively with journalists and getting earned media content.
With so many services, it's important to negotiate for what you need the most help with. In fact, you'll want to find the PR firm that specializes in exactly what you need.
If you don't need generalized work in all of those areas, you don't have to settle for it.
6) Understand the Terms of Their Retainer
Here's where we talk about payment. PR firms earn around $13 billion in the United States every year. However, many people are confused about how these payments work.
The agency you work with will typically charge you under a retainer. This means you'll have to pay based off of the number of hours they expect the work to take. Some PR agencies charge ridiculously high rates up front with no promise of results.
This is a dangerous gamble to take. Before you end up paying a PR firm, you should have a very clear idea of what they are charging you for, what they will be doing, and what results you can expect.
There are a few firms and agencies that have changed their payment options. Instead of charging a retainer up front, they charge based off of results.
Both options are good if you find a talented, reputable company.
If you're a small to medium size business, however, it's important to note that top PR agencies will charge, sometimes up to 6 months of work at the beginning.
7) How Will They Involve You
With the rise of technology, many roles have become integrated. Marketing and public relations is just one example of this.
These two roles are incredibly connected. As a result, in order to have a successful public relations project, you need to track the standard marketing analytics. Here's a guide on how they work together.
Your marketing team and your public relations agency should be working together. It should never feel like two different projects or parties.
When you are scoping out a potential PR firm, you should look into the way that they work with their clients and the roles that you will be required to fill.
Find Your New PR Firm
Public relations agencies have existed for a long time. When the work is done correctly, they can provide a lot of value to the brand and the company.
The most important aspect of public relations is choosing the right PR firm. By following these tips you'll be able to find someone trustworthy, reliable and experienced.
If you're looking for a new team to help you gain brand awareness and increase sales, look no further than our team here at Dream Weaver Brand Communications.