How To Hire a PR Firm and What to Look Out for
The abundance of digital and social media has created a golden opportunity for brands to deliver highly relevant and targeted messages to their audiences around the clock and at speed.
However, most companies cannot do this in-house; they often lack the means, the capacity or the staff. This is where hiring a PR firm is the best option. Below, Will Painter, Founder and CEO at WP Communications, provides CEO Today with a simple guide on hiring a PR firm and what to look out for.
Despite the ability to target audiences with content anywhere, anytime, press coverage still remains the most effective way to build a brand’s reputation and validate it among existing and prospective customers within a neutral context.
By targeting and influencing prospective customers with engaging, relevant stories that create an emotional connection, rather than a sales patter, will help to grow brand awareness through word of mouth.
So, how do you go about finding the PR agency that can help you with building your brand?
Credentials & culture
Request a credentials meeting before committing to work, scoping activity or seeking recommendations on a communications strategy. As a way of getting set up for success, you want to know if the agency has relevant experience to the market you operate in and if it has sector specific specialists. This will help when it comes to profiling your company to the media. The agency should be able to identify the brand’s position within the market and where it can own a share of voice among competitors based on data and industry insights.
The PR agency needs to be the right cultural fit for your business as great work is achieved when working in collaboration rather than conflict. When you go for a ‘chemistry session’ or informal chat, make sure you get under the skin of the PR to see if the agency’s values mirror your own, and find out who else they do business with. This will ensure a strong working relationship, speeding up delivery and producing a better quality of work.
The PR agency needs to be the right cultural fit for your business as great work is achieved when working in collaboration rather than conflict.
Case studies: show and tell
Does the PR agency have relevant examples of previous work related to your business? This is key to judging whether they will be able to provide the levels of experience needed for the job required.
A selection of case studies will demonstrate that they know the industry and media landscape. Ask them who they take stories to and examples of what they have worked on: from idea to execution. This will show the extent of their media contacts and how skillful they are with the story-telling process.
Measurement and evaluation
Prior to signing off activity, ensure that the PR agency has demonstrated how and what they will be measuring and evaluating. How will the agency measure their efforts and is it aligned with your business and marketing objectives?
By measuring PR against sales team’s customer feedback, brands can identify how effective communication campaigns have been in altering perception of potential and existing customers to generate leads and sales. Media perception, share of voice, total number of eyeballs on the articles (reach), and sentiment analysis still remain important. However, these metrics demonstrate how well messages are communicated and portrayed in the media to reach target audiences, and cannot be directly correlated with business performance.
By measuring PR against sales team’s customer feedback, brands can identify how effective communication campaigns have been in altering perception of potential and existing customers to generate leads and sales.
Client servicing team
Who will be servicing your business is fundamental to success in delivering impactful PR campaigns. It goes without saying that the pitch team should be the client servicing team. There is sometimes a tendency for agencies to bring in their best team to win the work and then a completely different team for day-to-day activities.
Make sure that the agency confirms who will be executing day-to-day activity, the names of the senior leadership team, and their level of accessibility. This is important when you are urgently seeking counsel or need to escalate actions.