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Vivian Li/李雯雯

PR Manager/公关经理

Tel:0086 010 83907451


6 factors to consider before hiring a PR agency

Seeing your name in lights. The phone ringing off the hook after your industry publication ran a cover story about your business. All of your peers, competitors, and colleagues patting you on the back after a major national publication does an in-depth interview with you.

Each one of us thinks, “If that happens, we’ll have it made!” So, you go out, hire a PR professional or firm, and wait for the magic to happen.

Then you wait, and wait and wait.

Some of the best publicists will cause stories to appear, and you’ll feel good about them. But you’ll be left wondering, “What’s next? When does the cash register begin to ring?”

When that happens, there are two things going on:

1. You have unrealistic expectations of what your PR professional or firm can do for you.

2. Your PR professional or firm hasn’t been honest about what you should expect.

Prepare yourself before you start working with a PR professional or agency. Here are six things you should consider prior to engaging in PR efforts:

1. Know what PR is in today’s digital age .

Yes, a good majority of PR firms will still pitch themselves to you as a media relations house. They’ll call themselves a PR firm, but all they’ll do for you is pitch stories on your behalf.

If you hire a firm that only does media relations, you will think it’s a huge waste of time and money about six months from now. Business owners say this all the time: “Oh, they were great at getting stories about us, but it didn’t really do anything. It was a waste of money.”

Seeing your name in print is great for your ego, but it does not make the cash register ring. If the firms you interview don’t talk about how to integrate media relations into a larger communications (or marketing) program, you will feel like you’ve wasted your money.

2. Be ready to share your business goals .

This means sharing them even in the introductory meetings. Have agencies or professionals sign a non-disclosure agreement, if that makes you feel better, but don’t hide your goals.

A strategic PR professional must have access to your business plan, goals, analytics, database and metrics. Without those things, it’s impossible to be successful on your behalf.

3. Have realistic expectations .

If the PR firm is worth its salt, you will spend money—but you can expect a return on your investment anywhere from two to five times what you pay your team.

It won’t happen overnight. It won’t even happen in 90 days. It will take at least six months for you to begin seeing a return. That said, most will be able to give you metrics to track from the first day that show whether or not you’re on the right path. Ask for those.

4. Ask yourself if you have the time to spend with the firm .

Communications does not happen in a vacuum, and your involvement is necessary.

Expect someone from your organization to spend at least an hour every day on PR. Without your help and your involvement, the PR firm will only get so far. PR pros don’t know your business as well as you do—and customers, prospects, journalists, and potential brand ambassadors would rather talk to you than some middleman.

Your PR firm can create those conversations for you, but you have to have them.

5. Be willing to take risks .

Technology has completely changed the way PR pros do their jobs.

Using the Web—and social media, in particular—means you’re going to build your brand and gain awareness much more quickly than in the past. It also means you’ll be under scrutiny.

Make sure your PR firm has experience with crises on the Web and be willing to let them get your brand out there. The more uncomfortable it is for you, the more likely it is to work.

6. Be uncomfortable .

There is nothing worse than a prospect saying they want out-of-the-box thinking, and then asking for boring, unsexy strategies.

If the PR firm doesn’t make you a little uncomfortable when you meet with the team within the first few meetings, nothing you do together will be extraordinary.

It’s the discomfort that gets us to stretch beyond what we think we can do. Let them guide you down that path.

Media relations alone won’t work

PR pros too often hear, “We don’t want you to do anything but reach out to the media and ‘influencers.’” Though we can do that and be successful, you will not be happy.

Email marketing—particularly in a business-to-business organization—is the best way to drive sales or gain new donors or get people to an event. It’s a strategic process that includes what people are saying about you, such as clients, reporters and influential social media users.

If you have an active blog, it is typically the second best way to reach your business goals, which can also include contributed content, guest blogging and interviews or stories with brand ambassadors.

Vivian Li

PR Manager

Tel: +86 010 8390 7451

Mobile: +86 13041030670