What you need to do to hire a PR firm

What you need to do to hire a PR firm

When it comes time to hire a PR firm, it is surprising how few businesses spend much time preparing a brief about their enterprise so that the PR firm can present a meaningful approach to addressing their needs.

In many instances, particularly if the business is hiring a PR firm for the first time, businesses do little, if anything, to define what it is they want to accomplish or define the scope of the assignment.

It’s not because they are lazy or incompetent. It is simply because they have never gone through the process of hiring a firm and are not acquainted with what is involved in preparing the PR company to fully address the PR needs of their business.

At Wellons Communications, we have encountered clients who have provided us with well-thought-out documents that clearly spell out what they need to have done.

And, at the other end of the spectrum, we have encountered would-be clients whose approach to hiring a PR firm is “Okay, whaddya gonna do for us,” without giving providing relevant input as to what they want to accomplish other than “We need PR.”

The point to remember is that hiring a PR firm is not a beauty pageant.

Think of hiring a PR firm adding a highly specialized professional to your staff and treat the hiring process in the same fashion you would use to hire a key employee.

What to include in a PR brief?

A PR brief about your business does not need to be lengthy. A couple of pages will do the trick. From the PR firm’s point of view, the type of information that will be relevant includes:

  • Your business objectives
  • Where your brand/business currently resides in your business category
  • Where you your brand/business to reside
  • Key audiences (Who are your customers? Who are your potential customers? What customers are the best targets for your marketing success?)
  • Key competitors
  • Issues and considerations that the firm will have to consider, e.g. seasonality, budget restraints, history of your business, industry considerations.
  • Any current or relevant market research or background information
  • Other marketing activity you are conducting (advertising, promotion, sales)
  • Time frame (start dates, special event dates, peaks, and valleys in your business’s normal operations)
  • Budget considerations: state a specific budget or provide a realistic budget range that would be comfortable for you.

What about the process of hiring a PR firm?

Generally, hiring a PR firm is a three-step process.

The first step is to research which PR firms appear to be affordable and best suited to your needs.

If your business is totally local, firms based close to home might be the best answer. If your enterprise revolves around one industry (e.g. tourism, legal, accounting, manufacturing), then the PR firms you invite to pitch might be firms that already possess experience in your industry.

The second step would be a preliminary meet and greet to get acquainted with a principal of the firm and outline your needs and expectations.

Based on the preliminary meetings, decide which firms you want to present for your business and provide a timeline and your PR brief. Allow a couple of weeks for the agency to prepare to address you with a formal presentation.

The final step would be a presentation by the agency, outlining how they would approach your assignment and introduce the individual(s) that would serve as your PR account team.

During the interim period between the initial meeting and the presentation, if agencies ask additional questions after having received your PR brief, answer them promptly and with care. Remember their entire approach for you may depend on your answers.

If one agency asks to meet up a second time prior to the presentation do not feel you are giving them an unfair advantage by doing so. They are simply being keen and proactive. If all the agencies are able to compete on a level playing field, you are being perfectly fair.

So, what are your next steps?

If you do not have a public relations firm and want to expand your marketing to include public relations, then consider Wellons Communications.

We will be happy to discuss more about what you need to do to locate and hire a PR firm…and, of course, we hope you will consider us in your search.

We have decades of experience in a variety of industries and are well-versed in consumer marketing, business-to-business trade communications and, if needed, crises communications.