So you’ve reached the point where you’re looking to hire a PR agency. PR agencies are able to help businesses with a variety of different aspects, and many brands are known to reap great benefits from working with public relations firms. But hiring a PR agency is a delicate process, and you’ll need to make sure you’re making the right decisions as it could affect your company’s reputation. We’ve put together a list of tips and tricks to make sure you hire the best public relations agency for your business.
What’s the role of a PR agency?
If this is the first time you’re hiring a PR firm for your business, it’s extremely useful to understand what exactly a PR agency does.
PR, or Public Relations, is the way in which a business manages how members of the public view and understand their brand and products. By extension, a PR agency helps companies manage their reputation via different services and strategies. The different strategies then work together to help properly relay brand messaging. Some examples of services PR firms offer include media relations, crisis management, social media marketing, press release creation, media training, content marketing and more.
What are the benefits of hiring a PR agency?
While some brands have an in-house team for their PR, there are many benefits to hiring an external PR agency. For one, you’ll be working with proven PR specialists who have a track record of delivering effective campaigns and strategies. PR agencies also tend to assign people with the right skill set for certain projects, which helps brands see better results.
Another benefit of working with an external agency is that it can streamline your company’s overall business strategies. By hiring an agency to manage your brand’s PR, any PR responsibilities will be left to them thereby freeing up more time for you and your team to work on other projects. Hiring a PR company also means you’re more likely to see results faster, due to their industry expertise and existing media contacts. This will then help your brand gain a competitive edge in the market.
Now that you have a clear idea about how PR agencies work, here’s a list of tips to make sure you’re hiring the right PR team for your business.
1. Set your company’s goals
The first thing you should do before you even start looking at PR agencies is to outline what your company wants to achieve, specifically in terms of your PR goals. Identifying any specific problems you want to solve will make the process of choosing a PR company much easier.
When outlining your goals, avoid being too vague as you can end up wasting time and money on strategies that don’t show results. Instead, make sure your goals are attainable, measurable, and time-bound. These qualities will ensure you’re setting realistic goals that have set deadlines and quantifiable results, which can eventually help you refine your PR strategy.
2. Do your research
When looking for a PR firm, it’s worth doing some thorough research to make sure you’re hiring the right agency for your company. Does the PR agency offer any case studies? Do their values and goals match your own? What are their reviews like?
Have a look at their client list as well. Some PR agencies specialise in certain sectors such as fintech, medical, or creative sectors. If the clients they’ve worked with align with your own brand it’s a pretty good sign that they’re knowledgeable about your company’s industry and the kinds of PR strategies that would be most effective.
3. Set a budget
It’s important you have a clear budget when reaching out to PR firms. You’ll need to be realistic in terms of how much your company will be able to spend on PR as it can get expensive if you’re not careful. Calculating your budget beforehand will also make sure you don’t end up signing with an agency you can’t afford.
The best way to calculate your budget is to include base retainer, expenses, incidentals, and overages. It would also be a good idea to write out a clear plan in case the agency ever needs to go over budget. Once you have your top-line budget laid out, make sure you stick with it as firmly as possible to avoid any unnecessary expenses, both from your side and the agency’s.
4. Ask the right questions
Before you go into that first meeting, make sure you have a list of questions that will help you hire the right PR agency for your brand. This is a chance for you to see if the PR firm has the right skill set and experience to help your brand and whether their values align with yours.
We recommend asking questions that relate to expertise, previous clients and successes, and price. Examples of questions you could ask include ‘how would you collaborate with our marketing team?’ and ‘how do you measure success?’
5. Look out for chemistry
Although this may not seem important, it’s actually crucial that you and your team strike the right level of chemistry with your chosen PR agency. Remember, one of the essential aspects of PR is communication so it would be a pretty big red flag if there’s communication issues between yourself and the agency.
Approach this as if you were hiring for your internal team. Although they won’t actually be working in-house, you’ll still be collaborating with them on a regular basis so you’ll want to feel excited about working with them. Good chemistry is just as important as their public relations knowledge and skill set.
6. Make sure they have at least one good idea
Before you hire a PR agency, you’ll typically have formal meetings with them where they’ll pitch you different ideas. These pitches can consist of various different things such as ideas for social media campaigns, a media outreach strategy, or how to incorporate influencer marketing.
It’s normal for agencies to not be 100% on target with their pitches. After all, they haven’t been fully onboarded yet and aren’t completely familiar with your brand and goals. Take their ideas with a grain of salt, but make sure they pitch at least one idea you’re excited about. That one idea will be a good indicator of how they’ll approach PR for your brand.
7. Outline solid expectations
Once you’ve hired the right agency for your business, it’s time to set clear expectations and objectives for both your business and the agency. The first thing we recommend you do is set clear guidelines for how you’ll communicate between each other.
It’s also important for you to reiterate your brand’s PR goals. Make sure everyone working on your brand’s PR and communications strategies – both in-house and agency-side – is aware of these goals and how you’ll be measuring success. This is especially useful for when you reach the end of your contract and are thinking about a possible renewal.
Public relations can seem like a daunting field to explore. Ranging from communications, media outreach, social media campaigns and more, there’s so many benefits to having a strong public relations strategy. This is exactly why ensuring you hire the right PR agency for your company is absolutely crucial. With these tips, you’ll be able to find a PR firm that’s both highly skilled and compatible with your team – every business leader’s dream.
Looking for a PR agency to work with? We’re Naked Truth, a mission-led public relations agency. We work with today’s change-makers to help widen their social impact. If you think you’re one of them, contact us today and let’s see how we can work together!