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What Expectations Should You Have of Your PR Firm ... and them of YOU!

Look, we get it.

You sign a deal with a public relations company, you pay a retainer, and you want to be on the your brand of product to be on the TODAY Show while the ink is still drying and the check hasn’t cleared.

It doesn’t work that way, of course. Nonetheless you should have high – but realistic – expectations of your public relations firm.

*Expect to meet with the firm’s CEO and talk to your team. First and foremost, you want to see if you mesh with the PR company’s leader and some of the key people that will work on your account.

*Hire a firm that believes in your product or service. Make sure they try it before you sign with them. If they don't love it - they won't "pitch" it with as much passion.

*Expect transparency. You’re paying good money to retain a PR firm, especially if something goes wrong. A great PR firm will break it all down for you, right down to what the cost of a press release is if it’s separate from your agreed-upon billing.

*Expect a well thought-out plan. This is why you’re not getting on the TODAY Show eight days after signing a contract – but because a good plan includes a realistic time frame that allows for client-firm trust and that everyone is on the same page. The relationship just doesn’t work when it’s rushed. Remember a couple of years ago when the New England Patriots were down 28-3 in the Super Bowl to the Atlanta Falcons? Well, there’s no 25-point play in football, but a methodical approach ended up winning the game for the Patriots. Same here.

*Expect a firm to tout its research and planning. If it doesn’t have specific examples, it’s quite likely the company doesn’t have a strong research background - but on the other end don't hire a firm that tells you it will take 30-60 days to "on board" you before they get to actual work. That's just crazy talk.

*Check out their work - look at their placements, reel of broadcast segments, See if they have worked with clients in your industry.

*Expect a good firm to tell you the truth: They might comment on your website, your deck, your collateral, your social media content. A firm who really cares about your brand will tell you truth. And it will make their life easier if you listen. They speak to media daily. They hear what producers and writers are looking for. So don't take their comments personally - they are only doing their job which is to present you in the best light possible.

*Expect a lot of communication. This is the bedrock of a relationship between client and PR firm. If it takes weeks to trade phone calls and emails, that’s a big red flag. We return calls/emails the same day - it's how we work and we would expect that from any firm we hire - even if just to say -"got your email - we will get back to you soon".

*Expect the firm to take ownership in your business. Again, it’s one reason why you’re not getting into the Wall Street Journal as quickly as you’d like, because a good PR agency is taking the time to invest itself in your company. As most firms work on monthly retainers, it also gives you as the business owner a chance to evaluate the relationship over time.

*Be a good partner. Have samples ready. Have your bio outlined. Have product specs ready. Is your website up to date? Do you have inventory ready to sell when a placement hits? Are YOU ready to go? If not, can your new firm help you get there? Make sure samples go out when they ask them to and not a week later. Media works at rapid speed so when a firm says GET THIS SAMPLE OUT ASAP - they mean it.

* Expect the PR company to leverage its varied media contacts on your behalf. Behind the scenes, PR leaders are working daily to establish their own relationships with key figures in the media. It’s like knowing somebody who can get you tickets behind the dugout at Yankees games or wrangle an invitation to an Inauguration Ball.

*Finally - we know it's a big investment in PR - a non tangible, non ROI thing. Your PR firm is NOT your sales team. They are there to get your product, service or you exposure but they are not responsible for how much product sells from that placement. So don't blame them when a segment only sells 2-10 pieces when you were expecting 2000. Also remember than segments get cancelled and stories get scrapped - they only have so much control and while they will fight hard for you and your brand at the end of the day - there are things over which they have ZERO control. Like when your brand name is said incorrectly by a host - even when your firm has said it 10000% times and even spelt it out - trust us - they feel the pain too!!!!! But $hit Happens.

Good luck with your search! Or just call us....

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