Public relations firms do their best to improve the overall business objectives of their clients. The positive performance of clients, after all, is the only business measurement that really counts.
How often, however, do clients share necessary information with their public relations agency to “arm” them with the information the PR firm needs to succeed?
Often, companies simply ask PR firms to pitch their services without providing or sharing information that is critical to formulating an effective PR plan. On occasion, PR firms are confronted with organizations whose basic theme is “I am the client…and what are you going to do to improve my business results?”
The importance of communicating with your PR firm
PR agencies are, of course, outside services.
However, when you bring a PR firm aboard, you need to include your PR firm as a key member of your marketing organization. That means sharing information with them. Often, this is confidential information the firm needs to know to help you successfully compete or, at the other end of the spectrum, prevent potential damage to your business.
PR professionals are not clairvoyant. They cannot read the minds of clients. And, without providing PR team members with a clear and basic outline of your wants and needs, they cannot deliver results that meet those needs.
Prepare your PR firm before you even hire them
When you anticipate bringing a PR firm on board, whether it’s hiring a PR firm for a small business for the first time or because you’re changing firms, you can get the most from the firms by providing them an overview of what you are seeking to do, accompanied by a backgrounder on your business and your business category.
Surprisingly, many organizations have no idea how to build a PR brief. As a result, the entire process of enabling PR firms to respond to your business ends up below expectations, both for you, as a client, and the PR firm, as an outside service eager to help your business. This might leave you wondering, “Is hiring a PR firm worth it?” It definitely can be, but you have to do it right.
How do you hire a PR firm?
Start by identifying firms whose background, whether on point to your industry or with the capability to help you within your business category, is a fit for you. Some agencies specialize only in certain categories like tourism, medicine and law, or industry categories like automotive or agriculture. Other agencies have clients in a variety of categories.
Specialists provide advantages because their learning curve is less. Generalists bring the advantage of “transferability” that allows them to bring strategies and tactics that have worked outside your business category to your side.
Where to start looking? The local Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) chapter, if you are primarily a local business, or trade journals like PRWeek, which list PR firms and their backgrounds, is one place to start. If you’re looking local, your normal networking opportunities might yield some options. And of course, there’s always the power of a Google search. A quick “PR firms near me”, or in our case “Orlando PR firms” should do the trick.
Pitching new business is a risk for PR firms
One important rule: limit the number of agencies you want to have pitch to you. If you ask for too many agencies to pitch, you will not be able to give each the time and attention required. Many agencies will feel like pitching your business is a lottery and will pull out. Putting together a proper pitch is an expensive business for an agency, so many are becoming increasingly discerning about the pitches they do. If they feel like pitching your business is a lottery, they will decline participation, and you might miss out on a great fit.
Keep in mind that agencies will also be asking themselves, “Is this someone I want to work for?”
By providing each new business participant a basic brief, you will immediately convey that you are serious in your search, well-prepared in how you intend to measure each agency and ready to provide strong direction.
Spell out what you want to accomplish
Briefs for competing PR firms do not need to be long documents. They can be very basic. The good news is that most of the information you need to share with them already probably exists in your business plan.
Here’s a basic outline of what should be provided to PR firms before asking them to pitch your business:
- Your business objectives
- Where your business or brand currently exists in your business environment
- What you want your business or brand to be
- Target audiences: Who are you trying to reach?
- Key competitors
- Issues and considerations that the agency must take into account
- Existing research or information you can share about your business
- Other marketing you already are undertaking (e.g., advertising, promotion)
- Time frame: When will you be receiving pitches, and when you will make a decision?
- Budget: Provide a budget range that is easily within your capabilities
- Structure: Who will be the primary point of contact with your business?
Pick a firm you can trust
At our Orlando PR firm, we’ve been on both sides of the table on pitches and have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in terms of how companies have gone about hiring a PR firm.
If you’re looking to hire an Orlando PR agency, we’d be happy to consult with you on the process and present our thoughts on what we could do for you (and if we’re not the best fit, we have a great network of other Florida agencies with a wide range of specialties, and we’re happy to refer you).
Want to chat? Give Will a call at 407-339-0879 or shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. No matter who you choose to help with your PR needs, we hope you use this process to find your perfect fit…and we hope you see awesome results for your business.