Selecting the Right PR Firm for You: A 10-Step Process
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By Roxanne Leone, Director Marketing and Communications
In a recent study, 73% of respondents said they feel confident about the value of PR amid COVID-19. To help boost confidence and remain optimistic in planning for next year, we want you to consider these essentials when looking for a new PR agency. Selecting the right PR firm for your organizations’ short- and long-term needs could make all the difference in the world for your business to flourish in 2021.
Approve your budget now
This may be one of the most important steps in launching a successful PR program. Regardless of your investment in communications, the right PR firm will be able to guide you to make certain your money is well spent and that you compliment your marketing to ensure a strong ROI. For a free public relations budget template, visit the HubSpot blog.
- Seek referrals and read reviews
Reach out to your professional network on LinkedIn or pick up phone and ask friends and previous colleagues who they recommend. In addition, websites like Clutch.co offer verified reviews and agency portfolios to help with your online research for public relations firms.
- Have a checklist of must-haves
This might appear to be a simple step in the selection process for the right PR consultant, but guess what? It is more than finding an agency with industry knowledge and media connections. It is just as important to secure a good culture fit to be an extension of your team. For more on agency culture, visit our blog titled “Selecting an Agency Based on Culture: Building a Team Around Respect, Trust and Shared Values”.
- Get the firm size right
PR firms vary in size, and that is by design. Agencies like Bob Gold & Associates focus on entertainment and technology as a boutique B2B tech PR firm while others may be known for influencer relationships, B2C expertise or other specialties.
- Make sure they understand your business
Many large firms cover a variety of verticals with experts dedicated to each while boutiques tend to focus on specific industries. Either way, find the right team that is knowledgeable and genuinely interested in what you do and where you want to go. View the industries we serve here.
- Understand the firm’s approach to PR
Be sure to go through the initial presentation or pitch with a fine-tooth comb. You must understand what they will do and what you will do together. Be sure to discuss the channels that matter the most to you, such as business news outlets, tech outlets, trades, blogs, general interest press and podcasts.
- Ensure they are well–connected
If you are working from a referral, it is safe to say they know the right people in your industry. However, no need to second guess. Simply ask which trades, outlets, and local news stations they feel are the best fit for your business and ask for samples of tier-1 placements of other clients.
- Meet the team assigned to your account
Your first connection with a PR firm is often with the new business development associate that will not be managing your account. Make sure you meet all team members that would be assigned to you to verify compatibility. If you leave the meeting feeling confident and energized, that is a positive sign they are a good fit.
- Discuss and document KPI’s
Many agencies will map out a roadmap of deliverables, but very few guarantee KPI’s in their contract or scope of work as Bob Gold & Associates does. Be sure you agree on metrics and priorities and whether you want an all-inclusive communications plan. Additional services that may complement your media and analyst relations plan would include a digital marketing strategy, award submissions, event planning, market research, media training or content creation for thought leadership materials.
- Go with your gut
If you feel good about the meet & greet, the strategies the potential team recommended and the timeline in which solutions will be delivered, push forward. It is time to plan for 2021 now.
Selecting a PR agency to tell your story can be a fun and rewarding process even if you are in the middle of pivoting your business and re-adjusting your communications budget. With experience running multiple corporate communications departments, and hiring PR agencies big and small, I can tell you this – every agency has different connections, expertise and approaches to challenges, resulting in overall strategies that differ significantly.
Take the time to do your research and ensure you select a passionate partner to represent your business. And if you need some additional inspiration to start your search, look at our most recent Words to Lift By video on Bob Gold TV.