21 Feb 9 things you should consider when choosing a new PR
I wrote a while ago about how to tell if your PR person was “doing the dance” . In other words, are they full of rosy promises accompanied by a fat retainer that never really gets you any good placements?
Now that businesses seem to be doing a bit better there are several who are thinking about investing in public relations once again. Thankfully, the last two years have weeded out some of the worst communications and PR people freelancers but there are still quite a few hacks out there. I often compare finding a PR person to choosing a plastic surgeon. You really are picking the person or agency who is going to be presenting your new “face” to the media and subsequently the entire public. Here are a few things I would suggest…PR’s please add some of your own!
- Do they insist on doing everything for you or are they willing to work as a part of a team? I’ve found that PR people and agencies who adhere to strict processes and methodologies are failing these days. Social media has created a real-time environment in which a sense of urgency is even more important. A rigid process may have worked two years ago, but it won’t work now.
- This freelancer or agency probably touts great skills in social media. Look at their own accounts and see what they do, not what their clients are doing. I find that only the practitioners who are actively engaged and working themselves in social media really understand how to implement it for someone else.
- On the flip side, don’t fall for someone who has all this sexy new media experience…and only that. You have to have a strong understanding of overall marketing and communications strategy in order to collaborate or create a truly integrated campaign – and those are the ones that work these days. If someone tells you “the press release is dead” run as far as you can. That’s the mark of a person who doesn’t understand the bigger picture.
- Get client references but get journalist references as well. If a freelancer or small agency is good, there will be writers and editors who will attest to that. If they tell you “journalists don’t do that” don’t believe them.
- Ask for the list of placements in the last six months they’ve gotten for their clients. You’ll often see a long list of really exciting magazines, TV shows, etc on an agency’s website. However, this may be over the past ten years. You want to see how current their “hit list” is.
- Make sure the “hits” they got were relevant. One placement in a good trade is worth five in media your clients don’t read, but where the editors happen to be friends with your PR.
- You want a good mix of creativity, persistence and quality work. As to see some sample press releases, pitches (this will show they do more than just distribute releases) and press lists for recent clients. Don’t rely on what they show you in the presentation either. You want to see real samples. You can also google their clients to find those as well, but hesitance here should be a flag.
- Ask how they will set goals for your campaign and how they will report against those goals. Here’s where you really need to be a smart client. It’s not just about the placements…PR’s job is also to put you on the radar screen of the media. I’ve had clients get killer placements long after our contract has ended and I can trace those back to an introduction I made. That’s a big part of what you’re buying and don’t forget it.
- Find out how long they’ve retained most of their clients. Many PR’s are really good at closing business but never extend those contracts. Find people who have created long-lasting relationships with brands and companies.
Sound like a lot of work? This person or group is going to be presenting your company, product or service to the WORLD. I’d choose them as carefully as your next plastic surgeon if I were you. The wrong PR could mess your image up forever.