Have you noticed that your business is busy but not growing the way you would like? Maybe you’ve reached a plateau of serving a certain type of customer. Or, your salespeople don’t have the support of a strong company brand to help lay the groundwork for that big sale. If this sounds familiar, public relations can be the solution.
If you’re ready to consider hiring a public relations firm to help solve these problems, here are a few ideas to help you through the process of finding the best one for your company:
- Don’t use an RFP. Although necessary in government work and some other industries, many good PR firms won’t respond. RFPs can take up a lot of staff time that many firms would rather spend on existing clients. Instead, ask for referrals from other business owners and then contact those PR firms. Be honest with each firm about what you’re trying to achieve and have a budget in mind.
- What to ask. Once you’re identified 2-3 firms, find out their experience, how they have helped other companies (case studies), how your account would be handled, and who would work on it. You can ask each firm to prepare a proposal and then present it in person. That will give you some personal interaction and “feel” for the firm. Also, experience in a specific industry isn’t needed. Most experienced PR pros can quickly learn your business and know what tactics to recommend and implement.
- What to expect. Each PR firm should provide you with a general outline of how they would handle your account, who would work on it, and some ideas of what they would deliver including costs. Don’t expect a complete PR strategy and plan. That’s the “secret sauce” and will come after a firm has been retained.
Once you make the commitment to hire a PR firm, follow through. If you are too busy, assign someone on your staff to be the firm’s contact. This needs to be someone who can quickly provide information and respond to requests. No PR firm will succeed if they don’t receive support and timely responses from the client. If you are responsive and have hired the right firm, you’ll be pleased that you did, and should see results in raising your company’s profile and improving business.