Hiring any consultant is a difficult task. How do you find one that will mesh with your company culture and values? What about the budget? How can you measure results? With public relations, it can be even more difficult, given most people struggle with the intangible aspect of our industry. That said, there are ways that can truly move the needle, yet provide you with a true measurement for results. Part of this is knowing how to set the stage to find the right firm for you, and what questions to ask in the first place. Here are the most important questions to address in your quest to find the perfect PR firm.
- What is your budget? Every consultant you speak with will need this information to design the right program for you. If you’re transparent about what you’re willing to invest upfront, it will save everyone a great deal of time and you’ll find the right fit sooner rather than later. It’s like buying a house – are you looking for a small two-bedroom condo near the downtown area or is a large, family style house in the suburbs more in tune with your current lifestyle? Both are great choices, with very different price points, depending on your needs. It’s similar in the PR world; price points vary, and many agencies have minimum monthly fees.
- What type of PR ‘model’ are you looking for? If your project is a small, one-time project, you may get better value by finding a PR freelancer who specializes in your industry. However, if you’re seeking a larger on-going program that requires more man-power or is regional or specifically related to a particular industry, a mid-sized agency whose specialty shares your focus may be the right choice. On the other hand, if you’re a large national or International company seeking a bigger agency because you have needs in various cities or countries, an international company may be the way to go. One more option, if you like the hands-on approach for many different markets/regions but still want a mid-sized agency with dedicated local resources, then finding an agency through prgn.com may be your best solution.
- Are you looking for a specific type of program or do you need a longer-term broad base of communications experts on your team? If your company needs overall image building and branding, there are a wide range of options from which to select. You will need a talented team of PR professionals on your side who bring an array of skills to the table, in order to accomplish your entire program goals. On the other hand, if you simply need a new website, or promotion of a special event, the companies you’re considering should be known for that specific task or program, specializing in a few, very specific items and areas of outreach to ensure you’re getting the most for your PR dollars.
- Be prepared to have a meeting. We often get calls asking for quotes. We don’t respond. Without a meeting – whether it be face to face, via phone or video chat – it’s impossible to get a true feel for what you want and need. Therefore, please be prepared to invest time into getting to know the firms you’ve put on your short list. In order to do this right, you’ll want to know about their history, their client base, their experience, how they can help you achieve your objectives and how they measure results. Lastly, don’t forget to ask for references.
- Yes, you can measure results. Be prepared to discuss what you consider success. Is it a front-page feature in the Wall St. Journal or is it a measurable increase in your web traffic through a social media campaign? Everyone has different success buttons; give some thought to what yours might be. Then, have a frank discussion with the agencies on how they can get you there. This road-map will not only clarify possibilities, but will provide the foundation for working together as a team to move your company forward.
Hiring a consultant of any kind isn’t easy. However, with the right due diligence and dedication to investing in the process, you’ll come out a winner every time. And for any company, that’s money in the bank.
About the author:
Leeza L. Hoyt, APR is the president of The Hoyt Organization, Inc., www.hoytorg.com a full-service public relations firm based in the Los Angeles area. Ranked by the Los Angeles Business Journalas one of the leading companies in the area, the firm is also the Los Angeles area partner of PRGN, one of the world’s largest international public relations networks with more than $101 million in revenues and approximately 1,000 professionals in 51 locations across the globe. For more information, please visit www.prgn.com