Are you in the market for a PR firm to help amplify your company’s news? PR firms come in all sizes and specialties, making it difficult to determine which is right for your business. In this article we hope to help you prepare internally for your search and give you an outline of what you should look for in a firm that will help share your business’ stories and meet your goals.
Preparation for Choosing a PR Firm
Before you begin reaching out to agencies, you first need to determine your company’s goals and expectations of your ideal firm.
- Outline Business Goals
Above all, you need to know and be able to express your business goals. Are you looking to establish your reputation in a new field? Share about a new product launch? Do you need damage control? Do you have brand awareness?
Answering these types of questions will help you clearly define your goals so your PR firm can develop an effective strategy to get you there.
- Prepare for the RFP and RFQ Processes
The request for proposal (RFP) and request for qualifications (RFQ) processes are when businesses write down their goals and what they want from their PR firm. From this list, you gather around 10 PR firms that you are interested in and believe could help you achieve said goals. Firms that are interested will respond with their qualifications and capabilities. This allows you to compare and contrast the firms to determine which is right for your organization.
- Settle on a Budget
While this may seem obvious, it often gets lost in the sauce. Some businesses wait until they are negotiating with different firms to determine their budget. However, you should have already calculated your maximum budget before you even begin outreach. Be sure to outline:
- Top-line budget
- Base retainer
- Determine Ideal Firm Size
There are pros and cons to hiring a large and small firm. For instance, if you choose to go with a larger firm you can expect:
- More extensive global reach
- Access to larger networks
- Fantastic experience based on their track record
- More in-house opportunities
- Retainer may be significantly higher
- Unless you are a top client, you may be lower on the priority list with less resources on your account
On the other hand, if you choose a smaller firm you can expect:
- Closer knit teams
- Local expertise
- Speciality in niche industries
- Better customer service
- Flexible retainer rates
- Higher dedication and resources devoted to your account
- Limited scalability
- Potential outsourcing for tasks
Be sure to weigh the advantages and disadvantages carefully before deciding on your firm.
What to Look for in a PR Firm
Now that you are prepared internally, you can begin looking for your PR agency. Consider the following attributes when compiling your list of potential firms:
- A Proven Track Record
Every agency is going to boast about their expertise in your field but you should do some research beforehand. If you can’t find anything on their previous work online, be sure to ask them about which companies they’ve worked with and a portfolio of their publications. If it’s a celebrated firm, ask for a list of awards they’ve received as well. You will want an agency that has a rich history of media relationships and clients.
- Industry Specialty
Industry speciality is a must because there are unique challenges that come with every field. By hiring an agency that specializes in your industry, they will have faced and overcome obstacles that you may encounter. This type of experience is invaluable and will give your business an advantage. Industry expertise also means that the firm has already established contacts and publications within your niche where you can be featured.
Do not accept an agency that speaks in vague terms. A competent and confident firm will be able to name exactly what they can offer you. You do not want to enter a contract with an agency just to uncover empty promises. Instead, stress transparency and ask exactly what you will receive should they be chosen as your firm.
- Customer Focused
While you should look at your PR firm as an extension of your team, remember that they work for you. The PR team should prioritize your company, be ready to face challenges head-on, and celebrate your successes. It is not your job to constantly remind them of their responsibilities. So be sure to choose a firm that truly cares about their clients.
- Team Chemistry
This often gets put last or even left off of the priority list, but it is extremely important. You want to get along with the people that will be representing your company. Therefore, you need to look at contracting a PR firm as if they will be an extension of your team – because they are! Both teams should work well together, and, most importantly, be just as excited to reach your goals as you are.
Are you in the market for a PR firm?CMW Media is a full-service public relations and marketing firm specializing in new and emerging markets. Our clients range from publicly traded companies to startups — including those in the global cannabis industry. Contact us today to request a free quote!