Looking to Hire a PR Firm? Here are 5 Things to Keep an Eye Out For
So it’s time. You’re ready to launch that new initiative or product. Your organization reached a major milestone. Trade show season is upon you or you’ve just hired that phenomenal new CEO who’s bringing about much-needed change. Or maybe your company simply needs visibility for its work and industry expertise.
You need some public relations efforts. But how? Where do you start? What do you look for in a PR team?
We’ve got a list of 5 great attributes to keep in mind when you’re on the prowl for a public relations partner:
Good Listeners, Better Counselors
You know what you want for your company. You have a vision. You have a goal. Is your PR team listening? You want a team who hears you and keeps your vision and goal alive. But just as important as listening to your goal is making sure you reach it effectively, and that path may look different than the one you set out on. While listening to your story and asking questions about your goals as a company, your PR team may uncover the actual gold – the untold story, the exact information that will hook the media. Or, if your public relations vision is likely to hit a dead end, you want your PR team to tell you that. We all value time and money, right? The right PR team won’t want you to waste yours. Does that mean PR won’t work for you? Absolutely not. It just means the message is re-evaluated and a new approach takes the lead.
Your relationship with your PR team is likely a financial one. You’ve invested – the contracts tell you as much. But the most important relationship is a partnership. Your goals become their goals. Your success is their success. If you take a hit, so do they. Your PR team should value you not only as a paying client, but also as a successful partner within their own company. Your best interests come before their bottom line. After all, this is public relations. We know how important a reputation is. Your PR team has two reputations to protect – yours and theirs.
So your company’s story made the news. But what does that mean? Just a newspaper clipping for you to hang on the wall in the breakroom? No. Expect more than the literal result for your PR efforts. What is your return on investment? How many eyes and ears read and heard your news – through every avenue: TV news clips, daily news e-distributions, print editions, online, etc. Whether you’re looking for PR efforts on one project or an ongoing relationship, be sure you’ll see results in a way that helps you understand exactly where your dollars went and how those dollars and efforts benefited your goals and bottom line.
Public relations doesn’t always mean good news and joyful successes. The unexpected does happen and the media will be ready to pounce, even when all you’d like to do is lock the doors until the situation blows over. Don’t – because the right PR team is ready. It’s their job to be available to you whether you’re in crisis or not (remember that partnership?). Do you know the best way to reach them, and fast? Are they responsive to your communication needs? A good team will want regular communication with you, be it a weekly call or regular face-to-face meetings. With ongoing communication, an unexpected circumstance can most often be handled efficiently and effectively since solid communication habits are already in place. But do return the favor. If your PR team is available to you, please make sure you’re also available to them.
Behind every good PR team, you can often find a fully-integrated agency. Public relations may be your goal, but so often a solid PR campaign goes hand in hand with additional efforts like social media or paid media efforts. It’s important to have good branding and an innovative and responsive website in place if you’re about to shout from the rooftops about your company. So is your marketing house in order? How about the overall messaging? You don’t have to take any of these steps alone.
Remember, your public relations team is more than a group you’re paying to help reach your goals. They are an extension of your team – your partners. They’re looking out for your reputation and your bottom line. Hire a team you’d gladly put on your own payroll.
What’s most important to you in a business partner?