Choosing the right PR agency or consultant is incredibly important, as they will be the face of your business to the media, and instrumental in raising the profile of your brand and boosting sales.
The tips below are designed to help guide you through the process and ensure you have the best chance of finding the right PR solution for you and your business.
The adage says that people buy from people, and PR is selling your brand and products to journalists. Make sure you take the time to meet face-to-face with anyone you are thinking of engaging the services of for PR. If they are bright, attentive and passionate about your aims and ambitions then there’s a good chance they will be able to effectively transmit them to the press on your behalf.
Equally, their communication should be clear and correct. Journalists can be understandably picky about the voice, grammar and punctuation of press releases so if you see errors in the copy of emails and on the website of a PR professional, this should rightly raise questions in your mind.
Chemistry is also important. Don’t forget that the person taking care of your PR is someone you will work with regularly, so trusting them and being able to tell them your aims and fears is important.
Experience is important, as it is in any industry. It means a PR will be able to take the tricky journalists and crisis management in their stride, know how to see the key story in every company and bring a product to life for a journalist, but there can be benefits to working with someone who is perhaps younger and new to the industry.
A multi-channel approach is now highly attractive to clients, who not only like to see coverage in traditional print publications but also need advice on a cohesive social media campaign and engagement with industry influencers.
Some of the old and bold PR consultants may be a little behind the curve on the latest trends, whereas younger PRs with fresh ideas who use these channels every day might suit you better.
A PR campaign will be more successful if the person conducting it has a little black book brimming with journalists who know who they are and respect their opinion.
In many sectors of the press, particularly consumer lifestyle, journalists are bombarded by emails from representatives of PR firms and companies hoping for coverage of their products or services.
The sender having a solid working relationship with the journalist will mean that an email is far more likely to be taken note of, opened and read. The quality of the product can do the talking then, but contacts certainly help to open doors.
A sector-specific PR professional will have a deep understanding of any issues affecting the market and know all the publications and bloggers operating in it. They will be able to build and maintain close links with key journalists and will require less intensive briefing on products and their position in the market.
See also: Upsides of working with a PR
Some sector-specific agencies and consultants may occasionally find that they are presented with a conflict of interest with a prospective client whose product or service is too similar to one that they already represent.
Agencies versus individuals
PR agencies come in all shapes and sizes, from one-man-band consultancies to large agencies. Naturally, there are pros and cons for both! If you choose to work with a large agency you will benefit from a broad collective experience and hopefully a large network of press contacts, but the higher overheads of running a large office mean prices are likely to be elevated.
PR consultants operating on their own can offer competitive pricing and flexibility on retainers or contracts, as well as the opportunity to build a close working relationship with them. The downside of working with an individual is that there won’t be a large agency network of contacts and knowledge, and the risk of accident or illness causing business shut down.
Small boutique agencies can offer a middle road between the two options listed above, so make sure you consider all options and find the one that works best for you.
Successful PR agents will be able to demonstrate a solid track record of successful campaigns. Check for evidence of coverage (particularly in specific publications if they are a sector specialist) and don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials from happy past and present clients.
Tara is our traditional marketing and PR partner so make sure you keep checking back here for more.