posted by Erika Montgomery
The best publicist or public relations agency for you is the one that is not only aligned with your business goals, but has experience in executing a marketing strategy that is a fit for you and your business. A very good public relations agency will not only align with your desired outcomes, but will have creative ideas to help you design an approach that is right for your business and your budget. In short, you need a visionary partner who will keep your best interests in mind, while helping you achieve your goals.
- Compatibility. Schedule an in-person meeting with a few different publicists. From the way the phones are answered to your experience during an introductory meeting, you can learn a lot about a public relations agency’s working style, and whether you will be compatible. It’s a little like having someone watch your children. Your business is precious, so find someone who values your time and effort and will treat your business that way.
- Creativity. Do the agencies you are evaluating have a variety of clientsand projects? Do they specialize in one or two areas, or can they execute your entire package? Are you inspired by their vision of what your business can be, or are you driving the outcomes? Find a publicist partner whose creativity you can trust.
- Experience. The main reason for hiring a publicist in the first place is for him or her to achieve bigger results than you can envision, in a professional way. Otherwise you could do it yourself! See if an agency has the energy and manpower to execute your plan. Above all, do they have the experience, a proven track record, and other satisfied clients that show they can produce the results you want? Look at their portfolios and call their clients. Check references.
- Media Relations. Often, a business requires a public relations agency to work the media on their behalf. If they need to pitch journalists, or talk to other media professionals, ask the publicist how she builds her media lists. Does the agency subscribe to major industry databases such aswww.cision.com or www.vocus.com which give them access to journalists nationwide? This is a critical requirement, as you don’t want a publicist who is winging it on his or her own, working from her own independent journalist list. This information changes constantly, and your public relations agency must have the latest, most up-to-date information. If they don’t, run!
- Writing Skills. So much of marketing occurs “on paper!” It is imperative that a public relations agency represents you with good writing. Look at samples of their work. Can they adapt their style and content to fit your business image, audience, and goals? Are they creative?
- Reputation. Is the publicist’s reputation among her peers and the media industry a good one? Don’t forget: This person or their staff will be representing you and your business. Don’t hire someone who has burned bridges.
- Who will be your account manager? Ask specifically to meet the person responsible for your account’s daily management. If you are paying for the top executive to run your account, make sure it isn’t passed off to a junior staffer or intern. If it is a team management approach, make sure you meet every key player and that you feel comfortable with each. Above all, be sure you have rapport with your primary contact. Public relations is a personal endeavor. It is important that you are able to communicate openly and honestly at all times.
The bottom line here is that you should do your homework when deciding to hire a professional to promote your business. It’s an important decision that’s key to your company’s success. What other tips do you have on hiring contractors?
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