3 Questions to Ask When Hiring a PR Firm
Perhaps someone advised you to hire a PR firm, maybe you have a major company announcement that you think you need PR for, or maybe you’ve worked with PR agencies in the past and you know the value PR can bring to a business. In any case, you’ve been tasked with hiring a PR firm and you don’t know where to start.
There are a few items you’ll want to check off your list before you start researching agencies. Primarily, you need to understand what PR can and cannot do for your company. Consider asking yourself 3 questions before and during the process of hiring a PR firm.
3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hiring a PR Firm
- Do I understand what PR is and the role it plays?
Companies use PR to build brand awareness and elevate a brand’s image, credibility, and authority. The process uses communications channels (like the press and social media, for example) as a way to shape and communicate a message to the public. It is part of a long-game brand-building strategy. It sits high at the top of the marketing funnel and is very different than advertising as it relies on 3rd party endorsements through earned media.
- Is my company ready for PR?
Spend some time studying your brand’s readiness before saying “yes” to launching a PR campaign. Make sure you have a really solid product, consistent branding & messaging, an understanding of your ideal target audience, and product samples available to send to the press and influencers. Since your PR team is an extension of your brand, you’ll need to make sure someone in your company can dedicate time to working with them. This person needs to be available to promptly reply to any press inquiries.
- What do I want PR to accomplish?
You really should have an answer to this question before you decide to hire a PR firm. PR campaigns really aren’t one size fits all. Some companies work with PR agencies to get a constant flow of company news in front of noteworthy and influential people and publications. Others want to build general brand awareness and generate more customer touch-points for their brand. Companies may also use PR as a way to build backlinks for their SEO or to create “braggables” for their website. These are just a few examples of the many benefits of PR.
Once you’ve successfully answered these questions, then you can start to research and reach out to PR firms and agencies. In my experience, almost every discovery call results in companies asking the same questions: How do you work? What are the costs? Who have you worked with? Who do you know? These are important things to know, of course. But a company will stand out to me when they go a step further to show that they understand what we do.
3 Questions to Ask A PR Firm During A Discovery Call
- Why is your firm a good fit for my business?
Every PR campaign is unique. The simple “Who have you worked with?” question tells you nothing about how successful your campaign might be. Instead, ask why their firm is a good fit for your business. They should be able to point to several aspects of your company that are complementary to their own strengths.
- Based on your first impression of our brand, what kind of stories do you think you pitch to the press?
This is a great question to ask because it shows that you understand the PR process and are willing to give them creative control. This will also give you insight into how the PR team operates and thinks. You’ll also learn their first impression of your brand and whether or not that fits with the image and messages you’d like to convey.
- How do you feel about press releases?
Here at Orca Communications, we take a very pro-pitch approach to PR. We only use press releases for legitimate company news. Even then, we don’t rely on them to generate press coverage. Most of our earned-media press coverage is secured through conversational pitches. We send those directly to targeted editors, writers, and reporters who cover the topic at hand. Some agencies are very press release-heavy. Make sure you know what kind of PR strategies the team you hire plans to implement.
So, now that you know what to ask yourself and the agencies when hiring a PR firm, why not practice your new skills on us? We’re always open for a free consultation. We’d love to help you out.