It’s been said that hiring a public relations firm is like choosing a work spouse because it is such a big decision for yourself and your company. Just like a suave suitor on a first date, it can be easy to fall victim to the idyllic presentations and persuasive promises to sway you in one direction. To make the correct choice for your situation, ask yourself these five questions:
- How big is the firm? There are pros and cons to working with a large or small firm—it’s all about getting the right fit for you. A smaller firm might not have as many resources, but it can often provide you with more personal service, quicker responses, and a personal touch. On the other hand, a large firm often has branches around the country and can tap into more manpower to get quicker results, but you may have multiple point-people, which can be difficult. Consider what size of firm will provide you the work experience and results you need.
- Does the firm have experience in your industry? Although experienced firms can work well across multiple industries, it can pay to hire professionals who know your space well. Experience in the industry can provide the firm with media contacts and knowledge of what works and what doesn’t work to meet goals. Ask to see previous campaigns in your industry and see if it is something that works well with your goals and vision.
- What is the firm’s plan for your campaign, and what measurement will it use? What it often comes down to is what firm has the best, most creative, most effective ideas for your business. Your firm should have an understanding of your overall goal and what it will take to make it a success, including what groups to target, what media channels to use, and how to make your message stand out. It’s also helpful to know how the firm will measure success—if your overall goal is to increase fundraising or gain more web traffic, metrics that aren’t related to those goals can be distracting and ineffective.
- Is the firm successful? A firm can have great ideas, but those ideas are useless if they don’t create results. Ask for references and a track record of previous campaigns to see how pleased other clients have been. You can also look at industry awards the firm has won and if it and its employees are accredited
- What is the payment structure? PR firms often have multiple fee schedules depending on the work performed. Some firms charge on a by-project basis, while others charge a retainer fee for longer-term work. Many firms rely on billable hours to calculate how much work their employees put into your account. Make sure you know how much you are paying and what is included in the fee—you don’t want to get stuck with an unexpected bill after the fact.
Choosing the right PR firm can play a huge role in your company’s success; take the time to ask your questions at the beginning so you make the right choice.