When is it time to hire a PR firm?

Just about any C-suite executive would like to get a favorable feature story about the company from a major news outlet, and it wouldn’t hurt for said executive to be highlighted as a “game changer” or “innovator.” But are you ready for a PR agency to take up your cause?

Here are five tips to consider if the time is right for a public relations firm.

1.  Do you have clear business objectives?

If you’re not able to define success, your PR firm is going to tread water with lackluster results. Focus on 3-to-5 specific, achievable determinants of success that the public relations team can use to build and execute an effective program. While achieving ROI is difficult to measure in public relations, your PR team will look to set its own communications objectives that support your business efforts in both the short and long term.

2.  Do you have an appropriate budget to allocate?

The size of your budget should be in line with your objectives. If you want PR support to drive turnout at a single event, your budget will be much lower than an ongoing awareness-raising campaign or product rollout. Many PR firms project costs based on hourly rates. If you’re dealing with a crisis response, it will most likely take extensive staff hours to keep your reputation intact, but a long-term strategic communications program can be planned ahead of time to ensure you keep costs down while consistently delivering results. Ask your PR firm about what services they can deliver at different ranges of budget, which will help you determine the best amount to allocate.

3.  What are you doing that’s “newsworthy?”

Journalists are constantly flooded with “pitches” for news stories from PR professionals. Just because you are doing good things doesn’t mean a reporter will cover your business. Make sure your efforts will stand out from the crowd – providing a new community benefit, opening a new store, expanding or rebranding your business, rolling out a new product or service. Not every story is told, but a compelling story can be a big hit.

4.  What agency would be the right fit?

Every agency is different. Large holding companies have global offices in most major cities and cover just about any public relations service available. Small PR firms are boutique shops that specialize in core services. A mid-size firm often balances the responsiveness of a small agency with many of the resources of a large agency. Fineman PR is one of the top public relations firms in San Francisco, specializing in consumer PR, crisis communications and multicultural outreach. In Los Angeles, 42West is one of the leading entertainment PR firms. There are usually several great options in every market. Reach out to multiple agencies to determine their expertise in your industry, what geographic areas they cover and who would be on your team. Meet with your top choices in person to make sure you find the right fit.

5.  Are you ready to be told, “no?”

The best PR firms are not “yes” people. They’re strategic counselors, and they’ll tell you if an idea is good or bad. Once you have found a PR team you can trust, consider bringing them into the planning process so they can help shape a communications program that is integrated with your other marketing efforts and meets your needs.

Still not sure? Reach out to a few agencies and let them know what you’re facing. Get their take on the right time for public relations support. The good ones will tell it like it is. The others will tell you what you want to hear.


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