One of the most important aspects of any successful business is getting in front of the right audience. You can’t sell a product if no one knows who you are.
However, spending hours trying to figure out how to push your way into the forefront of conversations can exhaust resources, time and energy. Hiring a PR firm can elevate your brand and your voice exponentially, but not all PR firms are created equally. Shopping for a PR firm should be like shopping for a comfy pair of shoes. You have to find the perfect fit.
So, with your goals and budget in mind, here are a few ways that finding your PR firm should be like searching for that perfect pair of shoes.
- Bigger is not always better – Just like how the highest heel may not be the most comfortable, a bigger PR firm may not necessarily be the best fit. Larger agencies may have the glitz and glam and a long list of clients, but that can mean that they have less time to focus on each client’s specific needs. Smaller firms have been known to have a more personal approach. Small firms also tend to be more niche and passionate and could place your company in outlets that a broader-based agency may not have relationships with.
- Read the reviews – Ask around! See if the firm has case studies or references they can share. A PR firm’s job is to be persuasive, but a past or current client can give you the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s important to ask how their experience was, how was the flow of work, were there any surprises along the way? Do they have experience in your field of work and relationships with journalists who will move the needle for you? These questions can usually be at least partly answered by asking around.
- Are they your style – Just as shoes have to really be your style for you to fall in love with them, a PR firm should be your style as well. There are certain questions to ask during the courtship process to determine whether a PR firm aligns with your goals, your needs, your capabilities, your budget, and your market. Your PR partners should understand your business objectives and be able to show experience within your industry. Your agency’s scope of work should align not only with your budget but also your needs. If you need help with social media, you’ll want to hire a firm with a team dedicated specifically to social media content creation and engagement. If you need SEO help, you’ll want an agency which has proof of bringing visitors to a site. And so on and so forth.
- You should forget you have them on – Just as a good pair of shoes should feel like an extension of your body, a good PR firm should feel like an extension of your team. With the right PR firm, the communication should flow seamlessly, the ideas should come from both sides of the table, and you should feel as though they are setting you up for success right from the start. Are they meeting their deadlines during the courting process? Are they sending you ideas that are unique to you as a company and resonate with your vision? Are they following up with you regularly? This is the time to feel out whether their cadence of communication matches yours and to set expectations.
- You’ll never want to throw them out – Just like a pair of shoes, if you find the right fit, you’ll never want to throw them out. Bringing on a PR firm is meant to make your life easier. And given that you’re going to be working with these people on a daily basis, you better find people you like. It’s important to trust your gut during the search process. If you’ve done your homework by reading reviews, asking the right questions, and analyzing their pitch process and you still don’t have a good feeling about them, it’s probably because the chemistry isn’t there!
A PR agency can be a great addition to your team and complement to your marketing efforts. While hiring a PR firm can be an intimidating challenge, just remember the above tips – it can be as easy and fun as shopping for a new pair of shoes.