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10 Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Public Relations Firm

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Help For A BrandHiring a public-relations agency/ firm for your business can be a difficult task, but if you want to grow it is something you will need during the business lifecycle. There’s no guarantee that a public relations campaign will produce the desired results. However, a successful campaign can help you expand your business in ways you never could on your own.

So how do you find a public relations agency that is likely to benefit your business? We have compiled (10) questions to ask before hiring a public relations agency.

How are you going to measure your success?

Before hiring a public relations agency, you need to know how it will measure success.  “Likes” on your Facebook or Twitter page and print media placements are common metrics for success in the public relations business. Is that enough?  Are you looking for the perception of your brand to change?  Would you like to grow your brand’s marketshare or enter a new market?

Which media reach my target audience best?

Whether it’s traditional media placements or online promotions, your public relations firm needs to know precisely which newspapers or websites reach your target demographic most effectively. You also want a firm that has experience with both old and new media if you plan a variety of campaigns.


Am I locked into a long-term contract?

Many public relations firms will put you on retainer, requiring an upfront payment so they will be available to offer their services as needed. But you want the option of getting out of such an arrangement.  You should ask that your contract includes a review after the first three months. If they are not delivering after 90 days, you know whether it’s going to work or not.

Have you worked on campaigns in my industry?

An agency that you hired MUST have prior experience in the industry that you represent. This is by far one of the best ways to ensure they have an up to date and accurate media list to pitch your story.

Who will be working directly on my account?

When public relations firms pitch your business, they send in their best people. But you’ll probably be working most closely with lower-level employees. The agency Vice President comes out to close the sale and then pass you along to someone way lower on the totem pole.  It is in your best interest to find out whom you will be working with day-to-day and spend time with them before deciding whether to hire the agency.

How much do you charge for specific services?

Public relations people typically will offer you a range of services based on your budget. Ask for an a la carte menu of costs for such services as press releases, videos, white papers and social media campaigns. You also will want to find out if the agency offers a pay-per-performance model, which allows you pay a lower upfront retainer with payment bonuses linked to results. This approach ensures that the public relations firm is sharing the risks with you.

Do you provide media coaching?

At some point a media outlet might want to interview you (or a spokesperson from your company).  Can the agency you hire for public relations provide coaching and media training?

What is your social media expertise?

Social media is no longer a nice to have for a business, unless you are Apple just about every brand on the planet uses social media in some manner.  Your agency should be well versed on the platforms, monitoring tools.  They should also know a few different ways that social media can help you – it could be used as simple as driving more awareness, or maybe using social media to sell more products.

How are you going to communicate with me?

You want to know how often the people on your account will be updating you on their campaigns. Can you call them on weekends? Will they be available when they are on vacation? You want a return for your investment and want someone who can answer the important questions when they come up.

What will you need from me to make the relationship work?

Some people hire a public relations person and expect their workload to be lightened, but that’s naïve thinking. You’ll need to be involved in your own public relations, whether by sending out a tweet, approving content for a blog post or being available to speak with media on demand. Find out what your commitment will be and make sure you can do what’s needed. 

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