If you are trying to make a long-lasting impression in the market, consider PR a crucial part of your marketing strategy. Any business, regardless of its size, can benefit from positive publicity and media coverage. PR is a proven way to take your brand message into the ‘news’ space rather than advertising.
In the current scenario, where the market is competitive for every product or service, PR is a powerful branding tool that helps your business to differentiate and stand out from the crowd. Plus, you can build an emotional connection with the audience and establish a brand persona.
And for you to achieve all these benefits, you must hire a reliable PR agency. Unfortunately, this is where most businesses fail. Since PR covers numerous functions, it becomes complex to understand what PR agencies do.
This article will address all such questions that will help you get to the core of PR agencies. By the end of this article, you will have the confidence to hire a PR agency that is right for your business.
Let’s get started.
What is Public Relations Agency?
In simple words, a public relations or PR agency specializes in managing the public image of their clients (for example, businesses & organizations) and engaging with their audience. These are the experts who promote a brand via editorial coverage. Unlike advertising, PR agencies are involved in “earned” or “free media” through stories appearing in newspapers, TV, and magazines. Such agencies help their clients acquire new audiences and achieve business goals.
Types Of Public Relations Agency:
- Press Communication
- General Strategic Communication
- Internal Communication
- Crisis Management
- Non-Profit Public Relations
- Community Management
- Public Affairs
What does a PR Agency do?
Often businesses get confused between advertising and PR. Well, it’s true that the duties of advertising and PR agencies can look alike, but their functions greatly differ. While a PR agency is aimed at boosting the brand reputation of a brand, a marketing agency is responsible for driving sales. Besides maintaining a positive brand reputation, they also help in crisis management – recovering a bad reputation and making it resistant to negativity.
A PR agency can offer the following services:
- Reputation Management
- Media Relations
- Crisis Management
- Press Releases
- Speech Writing
- Social Media
- Event Planning
- Market Research
- Internal Copywriting, and
- Media Training
How to Hire a PR Firm/Agency?
So, now you know why you need to hire a PR agency. However, choosing the right PR company is important. Here are some tips that will make hiring the right PR agency process a lot easier.
1) Decide On Your Goals:
The foremost thing is to know your own goals – you need to be clear enough about what you are trying to achieve by hiring a PR agency. Asking questions like, why do I need to hire a PR agency can get you the goals.
To begin with, you can set SMART goals – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. When you learn about your goals, it is easier to decide on what type of PR agency would be ideal for your business. For instance, if you run a non-profit organization, you can go for hiring a non-profit PR agency.
2) Explore Your Options:
Typically, you can choose from three options when it comes to hiring a PR agency:
- An internal team
- A PR firm
- Combination of both
Each of these types has a different price tag and will demand different levels of involvement from your organization. Based on your preferences, such as budget and goals, you can choose to either hire an in-house team or outsource it to an external firm. However, the best option is to have a mix of in-house and external PR experts.
The in-house internal PR person will have a good knowledge of your overall business and its marketing strategy. As such, they can work with the external PR team and build a comprehensive PR strategy for your business. Also, having an internal PR person can handle all the communication with the external team without your intervention, allowing you to focus on other important business chores.
3) Set Your Budget:
Hiring a PR agency can burn a hole in your pocket. Hence, it is important that you set a budget and convey it to your prospective PR firms. Before you begin your hunt for a PR agency, consider how much you’re ready to spend on your PR efforts. Try to answer questions like, “To what extent can we contribute to PR monetarily? “Will this budget come out of our marketing budget?”
Further, when creating your PR budget,
- Align your goals with your budget
- Don’t forget your priorities ( SMART goals)
- Include hidden costs
4) Do Your Research:
When you’ve your goals and budget set, the next, you should start researching the right kind of PR agency for your business. Collect as much information about them, including their team, track record, specializations, social media presence, cost, reviews, testimonials, top clients, etc.
If you are wondering where to collect all this information from, here’s where you should at:
- Company’s Job Page – To get an idea about their current objectives and tactics. For instance, if they are building a social media team.
- Strategic Announcements – To learn about their success, initiatives, new strategies, and their reputation. The idea is to know how well they handle their own public relations.
- Shareholder Letter – To get an idea about their unique value proposition, financial strength, and accomplishments.
- Glassdoor – for reviews and feedback from their employees.
Remember, knowing all this will ensure you are hiring the right PR agency to work with.
5) Prepare Your Questionnaire:
Even if you have gathered information about their current and past work and reputation from different sources, it’s crucial to get in touch with them in person. When you meet them, ask them questions to learn about their experience, price, prior successes, reviews, and testimonials. Create a list of questions like:
- What are your specializations? Do you hold expertise in a specific industry?
- How will get our business media coverage?
- What are your metrics for measuring success?
- What are your plans to work with our marketing team?
- What’s your pricing structure?
- What are your strategies for the first few weeks & what should we expect?
- Can we contact your past clients?
- What’s your work process like? Who would we be working with?
Make sure to ask these questions to every PR agency on your list. Their answers will help you decide on the ideal PR firm for your business.
6) Set Expectations:
When you’ve finally decided which PR company to hire, ensure you’ve discussed your objectives and goals clearly. Also, set up a clear line of communication while defining your expectations. Convey your SMART goals to your PR firm, and determine you will you measure success.
7) Complete the Onboarding:
Lastly, go through the onboarding process with your PR agency. Get to know who is the go-to person and communicate your goals. Create your daily, weekly and monthly plan with them and know how they will proceed. Plus, ask them questions like, “How often will we connect? “How will we track the outcomes of our work as a team?”
The Bottom Line:
So, investing in public relations can be a great aid to your business reputation. And hiring a PR firm is a great way to boost your existing marketing efforts, increase traffic and sales, and build brand awareness. We hope these seven tips will guide you through the journey and help you achieve the desired results in the long run.