Hint: PR firms aren’t one size fits all

Sometimes, even when people know they need publicity and want professional help to get it, they find hiring a PR agency to be a confusing and daunting task.

That’s understandable. Public relations firms differ in a thousand ways, it seems. For one, they use different business models – some charge monthly retainer fees while others are pay-for-performance, meaning you pay only for actual media coverage. Firms also have a whole range of specialties, from crisis communications to public affairs to research and analysis. How can you possibly determine which is the right firm for you and your needs?


How to find the best PR firm for you


5 key considerations when hiring a PR agency

If you’re considering hiring a PR firm for the first time, or you’ve hired one in the past and were unhappy with the experience, here are a few tips that should help.

  • Find a firm that has successfully dealt with clients in your industry. That firm will understand your industry’s idiosyncrasies, its jargon, and what it views as newsworthy. The firm won’t be trying to learn about your industry on your dollar, and it will already have relationships with relevant publications, blogs, and TV and radio shows. If you’re also an author, find a firm that works as well with book reviewers and book bloggers.
  • Hire a firm that specializes in the right media for you. Most PR firms specialize in print media (getting editorial coverage in newspapers and magazines, both online and offline), and many focus on social media. But your audience may be watching TV talk shows, or you may like the convenience and immediacy of podcast and talk radio interviews. The firm should be able to determine whether a particular medium is appropriate for your message and audience, and it should have a strong track record in gaining clients exposure in whichever media they will be using.
  • Ask to see sample campaigns. This is the only way to get a feel for the work the PR firm has done, and the quality and quantity of coverage they may be able to obtain for you. Keep in mind that a number of variables influence the success of a campaign and they’re not all within the firm’s control. Breaking news events are a good example. Still, this should give you a good idea of a firm’s track record.
  • Make sure you understand the fee structure. Many retainer firms add charges for actions they take on your behalf. So in addition to the monthly retainer, you can expect to be billed for materials they write for the press, or time spent on research, phone charges, copying, postage, etc. This can make it hard to plan your budget.
  • Try to find a firm whose fees are tied to performance. Some PR firms use a “pay-for-performance” model instead of charging a monthly retainer. In other words, if your contract requires them to book you for interviews on 15 talk radio shows or podcasts within a predetermined amount of time, you would be compensated for any interviews that didn’t happen. That’s different from the retainer-fee model, where there is no guarantee of results.

Keep in mind the most important thing is to find a company that you feel understands you and your message, and that you will be comfortable working with. They should be as enthusiastic as you are about promoting your company, product or book.

If your PR firm heartily supports your cause and performs like a real member of your team, you are both in for a truly rewarding experience.

To learn more about how you can increase your media coverage, contact our public relations team.


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