Prior to communicating with potential PR companies, it's essential that you understand what you want to achieve from hiring a PR company. The most common way to do this is to write a brief and outline exactly what you expect to achieve from the relationship with the chosen PR agency. Many PR companies will hire a PR company purely because they think it's the best thing to do, but most aren't actually clear as to what they want to achieve from it.
Or maybe they understand what they want to achieve, but are not sure how to do it. It is paramount that both you and the PR Company understand and agree on your objectives from the very begging that you start working together, this includes any targets and timescales. Whether this is coverage in popular publications, or an increase in telephone enquiries, it is paramount that everyone understands what the targets are! For a relationship to work with a PR company, both parties need to understand what is required of them.
The successful PR agency will be representing you in the media so it's important that you choose a partner who understands your business and the potential challenges involved. Do they understand the products and services that you provide? This is very important; there is no excuse for a PR company who doesn't take the time to understand the ins and outs of your business.
Do they have experience of working with businesses just like yours? Do they know which channels to use to get your product of services out there? These are both important questions to consider, as if the PR Company is the right fit for your business, they should be able to answer these questions straight away. If the company doesn't have experience in working with your type of business, their willingness to get under your skin and understand the mechanics of what you do could make up for this.
You can easily check what your competitors are doing by using Google Alerts or conducting a search for their Brand name. Are your competitors doing something that you could replicate? Make a note of your competitors PR activity and when you speak with potential PR agencies, monitor to see if they mention your competitors. If they do, this will show you that the PR agency has conducted research about your market space or how creative they will be in the face of your competitors.
Once you've set your PR goals, it's helpful to plan your budget based on these. Although you won't know the exact prices that each firm will quote for the work, it's useful to have an idea of how much you can afford to spend on PR. PR companies will typically bill people in two ways, a monthly retainer for a fixed period of time (e.g. six or twelve months) or different pricing for each project they undertake.
Remember that most PR companies will need to devise a strategy, write a press release and then pitch it to editors and producers - so don't expect cover immediately after signing a contract with the PR agency of your choice. You will also need to decide whether you would prefer to work with a small or larger agency. Smaller PR companies will have lower overheads with one, maybe two people working on your account - making their services a little more cost efficient. A larger PR agency will often have more resources allocated to your account, allowing them to get more work completed in a shorter time frame.
While a quick Google search will help you a selection of PR companies in your area, it shouldn't be the only tactic that you use to find potential PR companies. Ask business professionals in your circle who they have worked with and who they would recommend. A PR company should have good word of mouth, so once you've made a shortlist of potentials; spend some time on their websites.
Have a look at their case studies and testimonials to get an idea of the relationship you can expect to have with them. Also check how active they are on social media and how regularly they update their blog. When looking at their list of clients, keep an eye out for your competitors. A reputable PR agency will never sign up competitors of their existing clients.
Article contributed by Quadrant PR