Selecting a public relations firm is one of the most important decisions you’ll make to build your brand.
The question is, how do you go about it?
Here are five quick tips for choosing a PR partner.
1. BIG IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER. There’s nothing wrong with large, global firms with offices in 32 countries, particularly for large brands. You’ll get a team of people at your disposal, real heavy hitters. And that’s a good thing. But if you’re a smaller company looking to build your brand, you might not be privy to a lot of those resources. Because of the size of large PR firms, a smaller brand might end up getting less attention. At the very least, it’s likely a small brand will get junior-level members working on their account. That’s not a knock on those employees; many of them are talented and will move up through a large PR firm’s ranks. But that’s the point – a small business might see a bevy of new faces that work on their account as PR firm workers move on or move up.
2. IDENTIFY YOUR OWN GOALS. You can’t make an informed decision in choosing a public relations firm without first knowing what you want for your business. Do you want press coverage for your product? Guerilla marketing? Individual brand awareness? A little bit of everything? First defining your own goals for what you need might not speed your selection decision, but it certainly will make it easier.
3. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Let’s say, for example, it’s press coverage you seek. Take a deep dive into a PR firm’s track record for story placement. Do their employees have strong media contacts? Does a published story read like a story, or are savvy readers going to automatically think ‘advertorial?’ Is a television piece on a network’s significant programming, or buried on an overnight newscast? These are all things to consider.
4. YOU KNOW THEM; DO THEY KNOW YOU? After putting in your own research, you need to get a feel for how much due diligence a PR firm has done on YOUR business. There’s an old saying in Major League Baseball that spring training is not for players to get in shape; they already should be in shape coming in. It’s similar with a PR firm. As you conduct your initial meetings, a good PR firm will have a firm understanding of your business and how it works before getting into more nuanced discussions.
5. CHEMISTRY. This is almost like a date. You’re going to know when you find ‘the one’ when you get that gut feeling that you and your business are on the same page with a potential PR partner. That there’s a genuine excitement and enthusiasm from the PR firm for your brand that you already have. That there are innovative suggestions from the potential firm about how to grow your business.
These tips aren’t the end-all, be-all in selecting the right PR company. But it’s a start to help you find the right firm that understands your business and looks forward to helping you take it to another level.