Choosing a Public Relations Firm for Your Business

Turn to public relations agencies when you want to get coverage of your business in the media. Public relations firms are public relations specialists. Use a public relations agency if

  • Effective PR is crucial to your success and you can afford the going rates.

  • Your company is marketing-oriented.

  • You want fresh thinking, outside objectivity, and a more creative approach to PR.

  • You need help planning promotions, introducing new products, and selecting target markets.

Don’t hire an agency

  • Because you’re trying to cut costs.

  • Because you think you don’t have time to do it yourself. When you hire an agency, you’re hiring creativity coupled with PR expertise — and not just another pair of hands.

  • If you’re certain that only you know the best way to promote your business.

These tips can help you select the PR firm that can best serve your company:

  • Find a PR agency with expertise in your area. By choosing an agency that already has some experience in your industry, you save yourself the costly and time-consuming process of educating its staff from scratch.

  • Don't hire an agency with more capabilities than you need. To save money without sacrificing service or quality, select an agency that offers only those communications services you need.

  • Make sure that the agency is the right size for you. Make sure that your agency is small enough to consider your account profitable and worth its best efforts, yet large enough to have the resources to get the job done.

  • Ask to see the agency’s work. Examine a prospective agency’s portfolio of press clippings and client case studies.

  • Get the names of some current and past clients and talk with those clients. Find out what the PR agency did for them and whether the results were worth the fees.

    Ask the PR agency for the names of two or three clients who fired them. Find out why the PR firm was fired. If it was for lack of results, that’s bad. If it’s because the PR firm’s ideas were too daring and the client was afraid to try them, maybe you’re more daring and won’t be so afraid.

  • Make sure that the agency is sympathetic with the needs of small business. Explain to prospective agencies that your money is limited and your goal is to create PR campaigns that increase sales.

  • Check the personal chemistry. If you don’t like the people who will be working on your account, or if you sense they don’t like you, look for another PR firm; it’s not a good fit.

  • Be clear about fees. Have the firm spell out what they'll do and the level or degree of activity you can expect for your investment.

  • Don't rush it: Meet with at least three different public relations agencies so that you can see the different perspectives from which they approach PR in general, and your business problems in particular.

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