When the time comes to hire the services of a public relations firm to help grow your brand, the options are so endless it can make the selection process seem nearly impossible. It’s not easy, with new firms popping up on every corner of the web these days.
The task of narrowing down your options is definitely staggering if you’re a startup or SME that needs expert help to spread the good word about their brand. Remember, before you even get started, that the consequences of hiring the wrong firm will be yours and yours alone.
It’s not just the money lost, but the potential damage to your brand reputation!
Trust me, you don’t want to throw darts at a bulletin board full of PR company names and pick whichever one you can hit first. Each firm, no matter how highly recommended, will present a list of pros and cons for your unique company.
Here’s some helpful tips for making sure you hire the right PR firm for your company’s needs:
1. Check their rep using multiple sources
If anything, since you’re hiring these guys to make you look good; a truly reputable firm will have all their online bases covered with respect to making their reputation shine above (most of) their competitors. Check Google, then Bing. Next, start “skeptically” reading the various reviews they have on blogs, forums, and niche-specific marketing review sites.
You should be able to find a minimum of dozens, if not hundreds of reviews, with a mix of positive and a “few” negatives. Weigh the good ones versus what unhappy reviewers are saying, and you should soon have a qualified shortlist to delve deeper with.
2. Who do they know?
If a PR firm can promise you spotlights on HuffPost, Forbes, Business Insider, Bloomberg and the like, you definitely have a contender on your hands. Of course, no two brands are built alike – perhaps you’re a travel accessories brand that needs exposure on Lonely Planet or more obscure niche websites and/or offline media? If that’s your case, you should hire a PR that’s well-versed with anything related to travel public relations.
The relationships a PR firm boasts is a sure-fire indication of whether they can help your brand or not. Look at their website and social profiles and look for “Featured on” or something similar to see if they deal with the type of media you think you’ll need access to.
3. Have a proper sit-down with them.
No PR firm worth their fees will insist on email contact only. The good ones will insist on a phone call to get an idea of your needs, followed by an online video chat or in-person meeting to assess whether your two companies are a fit for each other.
Ask for key information that can help you feel comfortable hiring them – and allow you and your team to sleep well at night while they do their work!
- The firm’s background in serving your type of business and the associated targeted media they have access to.
- How, specifically, they feel they’ll be able help grow your business.
- Get them to show you visuals and point to past and current campaigns they have running for clients.
- Ask for contact information for past clients – reputable firms will have no trouble coming up with real world referrals you can contact at your discretion.
- Specific goals, milestones, and the timeline they envision for your current and future marketing needs.
The devil’s in the details, and these and other details are key to helping you make a final decision.
4. How much is all this gonna cost?
Most people will tell you that you shouldn’t just base your final decision on just the money. In this case, you kinda sorta can. See, if the firm has passed all the checks and balances thus far – great rep, noteworthy connections, and delivered an exhilerating initial meeting – their fees should make sense in terms of what you expect them to do.
If they’re doing it much cheaper than the competitors you’ve been analyzing, they’re either pulling the wool over your eyes completely, or at the very least aren’t 100% confident in their ability to deliver exactly what you expect. If they’re charging too much and you really want to give them a shot, you should negotiate based on other quotes you’ve received.
New upstarts with little or no rep might be worthwhile if budget is a concern, but the ball should be weighed heavily in your favor ($$$) if they can’t deliver!
Final thoughts for hiring the right PR firm for your business
There’s certainly a lot to consider when choosing a PR firm to help grow your business. You’ve put it all on the line to grow this baby. Don’t rush the hiring process and never take any shortcuts by quickly choosing the most highly recommended firm, or the one with the most charming salesperson.
Again, your needs are unique, and the best firm for one person might not be the best for you, and vice-versa. Ultimately, any damage done to your reputation as result of hiring the wrong firm will fall on you entirely. Even if they offer a money-back guarantee, the damage done to your brand could end up taking years and countless marketing dollars to repair.