Hiring a public relations (PR) agency is a great way to help your business gain media coverage, increase its brand awareness and achieve its PR goals.
Good agencies are able to create PR strategies that help businesses and organisations communicate the right message to the right audience in the right tone of voice and at the right time. And in the digital communications age, they can help to drive traffic to a targeted website through the use of content that is ‘SEO-rich’ – which means all content is created to maximise the likelihood of that business or organisation appearing high up in the rankings of whatever search engine people use.
When working with a PR agency it’s important to communicate effectively with each other and build a strong partnership to achieve your goals and gain the best results.
Before you choose a PR agency you should:
Look for: Proven, repeated success in your specific industry or similar. A strong track record in working with like-sized and like-minded companies with similar goals. Smart, strategic thinking that aligns with your vision and a team that’s willing to disagree, where appropriate, and continually bring new ideas to the table.
Have clear goals: Think about what your goal for conducting PR activities will be. This may be to build your brand awareness with your target audience, increase your profile in your industry or increase sales – or all three! If you have a clear goal your PR agency will be able to target the PR strategy more precisely and achieve the very best results for your business.
Know your target audiences: It’s important to understand who you are trying to reach with your PR activities. A good agency will help you carry out some research into the type of audience you should be targeting. The agency can then develop a PR strategy to help you reach the right people with your messages.
What type of services do you need?: PR agencies differ in the services they offer, so before choosing one ask yourself that services you need. Do you just want press releases generating or do you want support in social media, SEO building, crisis management, copywriting, e-newsletters, video production, photography, creating an online media centre for your company, behaviour change programmes or research? Make sure you’re looking at agencies that provide all of the services you are looking for (so-called ‘multi-service agencies’). Freelancers can be a tempting compromise between no outside help and a fully-fledged agency, but a one person cannot compare to the combined skill set an agency has to offer. Ultimately, your decision is governed by two factors – what you want to achieve and what budget you have to match those goals.
When looking around at PR agencies, use the following handy checklist:
- Do they have experience in your industry?
- Do they have experience doing what you think you’d like (eg social media, events, crisis, videography, photography, email marketing, and so on)?
- Can they do more than “get you in the news”?
- Do they do their own PR and is it successful?
- Are they asking the right questions about your business goals?
- Can they provide references from a business they have helped to achieve success?
- Do you get to meet everyone you’ll be working with, including the interns and subcontractors?
By following these simple tips and putting effort in up-front you can be sure you are choosing an agency that suits you and your business. You can also be sure that between your organisation and the agency you will be able to create a strong partnership that will see both parties producing the best results possible for your business.
One final point – make sure you review regularly how well your PR programme is going so you can be sure your efforts and budget are being spent as effectively as possible.