Hiring a PR agency to manage your company’s public image can be a difficult decision.
Perhaps you are a small business owner who needs a “leg up” in getting the word out about your brand, or you’ve recently experienced some bad coverage and need someone to aid in crisis management.
A PR firm can help shape the voice of your company and, more importantly, the public’s opinion of your product or service.
Finding the right PR firm, however, can be challenging as there are countless firms out there—many of which may not be the right fit for your particular business. The right PR firm can efficiently and effectively partner with your company, reflect your brand, and stay on top of emerging trends.
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Whatever the case, consider the following before making a decision.
1. Make Sure They Are Digitally Focused
Traditional PR, which primarily uses channels such as print media, television and radio to increase awareness of a brand, is dead. Traditional media itself may not be dead, as the outlets can still be PR powerhouses, but digital PR has truly exploded in just a few short years. Digital PR includes much more than just press release distribution and a blog. A digital PR firm will outline strategies for social media, content marketing, SEO, and your brand’s mobile presence.Some digital PR firms will excel in one area, but fall flat in another.
Some digital PR firms will excel in one area, but fall flat in another. A report from Market Connections Inc. said that just 34 percent of PR professionals have established mobile engagement strategy, and just over half of PR respondents have implemented a content marketing strategy. Because mobile content has become vital, it’s important a PR firm has a team to handle this area.
2. Set Realistic Expectations
Companies often expect immediate results. Sometimes, however, the story isn’t quite compelling enough for widespread coverage, or the targeted outlets aren’t yet receptive to the brand. PR coverage is not guaranteed; it is earned, and it may take a few outreach attempts to find your brand’s niche.
The right PR firm will have connections with a wide variety of reporters, editors, and other influential members of the media as well as the expertise to find the right outlets and convince them to cover your company. Talented PR professionals will also be able to estimate the level of response you’ll get, setting expectations that are achievable and measurable.
3. Have an Open Mind
Many business owners think their product is the best on the market, and the media is simply ignoring their good efforts. You may know your product, but a PR firm allows you see your brand from a different perspective: the perspective of your potential consumers and media partners.
Your messaging, for example, may convey a tone that is off-putting to a segment of your target audience. PR firms understand how the public will respond, helping you shape your brand identity according to what the public wants out of your product or service.
4. Understand the Difference Between Advertising and PR
It’s natural for businesses to want to be promoted, but editors easily see through efforts that seek to simply get a name out to the public. A PR professional won’t write an article and hope that a reporter finds it interesting. Instead, they will promote your services in a subtle, tailored way that not only adds value to a reporter's article but provides useful information for their readers.
Advertising is paid media, whereas PR seeks earned media. This means that advertisers pay for content to appear on TV, radio, billboards and websites. PR professionals also create content, but do so in order to create chatter around a business naturally. This can also be done via events, social media conversations and more.
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5. Go With Your Gut
When considering multiple PR agencies, choose the one that clearly understands your business, vision and goals. You should feel a connection with the PR team, and confident that they can interpret your brand’s message clearly to the media. PR is a driving force behind the success of a company, as advertising alone can’t convince customers that your product truly is the best. With good PR, your company has proven it can be trusted—a vital aspect for any successful company.