While you may want to shout about your company from the rooftops and tell everyone about it, in order to get value out of a PR agency, there are a number of steps that you should take before you go out and hire one.
First and foremost, you should have an objective and a well-built story to tell. You should know where your business is going, the product you are selling, and its place in the market. You should have both conviction and a plan.
You should start a PR campaign as early as possible. However, you first have to have a story that you are ready to tell. Therefore, if you have not nailed down your story, understand your positioning and market fit, as well as settled on your brand message and presentation, your PR will not be effective.
Once you are ready, you can then hire a public relations agency to manage your company’s public image and give you a “leg up” in getting the word out about your brand. In addition, the right public relations agency can aid in crisis management if your business recently experienced some bad coverage. That is because it is a PR firm’s job to help shape the voice of your company and, the public’s opinion of your product or service.
Before you sign a contract with any company, you should ask the following questions:
- You need to ensure that you can afford the services being offered.
- The length of the contract and what is included in it. You should also find out how to sever the contract if you are not happy.
- What you will need to do. You need to know what your role will be.
- The channels they will use to promote your business. There should be both an online and traditional media component.
- Find out if the firm has dealt with your industry before. Also, look for recommendations and reviews.
- Team members. You may be meeting with the sales team, and not the actual people who will represent your company.
Additionally, it is best to set realistic expectations when hiring a PR agency. After all, they are charged with creating a presence, developing relationships with key influencers and maintaining those relationships so they continue to pay dividends down the line. Therefore, it may take some time for the results to come to fruition. If either you or the PR firm you hire has a flimsy approach, it will result in flimsy results.
PR executives cannot magically promote a product or business and sustain interest in it without a deep dive into messaging, vision, company direction, culture, and voice. This is especially true when dealing with social media. Sites like Facebook and twitter have made it so that news cycles are fast. In that aspect, you have to look at PR to do what advertising does, repeat, because repetition matters. However, the advantage PR has over advertising is the aspect of authority. The message still needs to be repeated and consistent.