What to Look for When Hiring a Public Relations Firm

Public Relations

Working with a public relations firm can help you generate buzz and differentiate against your competition, creating credibility and awareness for your services. However, hiring one is a big decision—one that should be well thought out. But if you have never hired a PR firm before how do you know what to look for? It is important to understand so that you can make a well-informed decision. Here are a few items to look for when hiring a PR firm:

Track record – Have you asked to see past placements? This is important. If they do not have any placements for past clients within your industry, it is possible that they are not experienced enough to know how to get them. You do not want to be the one they learn on.

Recommendations – As with most things in life a recommendation from a trusted source is one of the best ways to get a firm. Have other advisors you know used a PR firm? If so, ask them about the experience.

References – If you don’t know anyone who has used a PR firm, ask the firm you are thinking of hiring for references. True, a firm will give you current/former clients who are happy but if they claim to be getting them in various media outlets, check. Call other clients and see if they recommend the firm for work. Not every firm is perfect, but they should be able to produce good mentions.

Promises, Promises – Are they promising you everything you are asking for and more? This can be a red flag. Just like you can’t promise clients that the stock market will always go up, PR people can’t tell you that you will definitely get on the Today Show. Of course, they can tell you that they will reach out and pitch the show, but that is still no guarantee. They are making these promises to get you in the door—so beware.

Understands your business – It is definitely a good idea to work with an agency who truly understands your business. Of course, there are firms who generalize but financial services is a very specific and regulated sector so having someone who understands your business could be really helpful. (For more information about working with an industry-specific firm, check out our past blog “The Value in Working with a Firm that Knows Your Business.”)

Transparency– Just like any business transaction clients should know what they are getting for their money. So ask the PR firms you are speaking to what you will receive, and do not accept generalities if you’re not comfortable with them. A competent PR firm can and should be transparent.  Any guarantee of minimum placements must be in writing.

Lastly, listen to your gut – If you are not comfortable with the person you are dealing with or have serious doubts about what they are telling you—walk away. You need to trust the person/agency that is going to the media on your behalf. It is no small thing and without trust, the relationship is more than likely doomed.

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