How to Choose the Right Public Relations Firm
Aug 17, 2015
Denver is brimming with public relations firms vying for your business. It's great for organizations looking to outsource their PR, but it can be overwhelming when it comes to choosing the right agency. Even though we always welcome new prospects, we want to be sure we can deliver results before we accept a contract. We want to be sure that Pushkin PR is the right fit. These are some of the things we tell would-be clients to consider before hiring us—or any—PR firm.
Areas of Expertise
Not all public relations agencies are created equal. Generally, firms have a handful of specialties—industries or activities with which they have the most experience. It's important to ask any PR firm you are considering if they have experience in your industry and to see some work samples and read their case studies.
At Pushkin PR, we have over 20 years of experience working with healthcare organizations; government agencies; educational institutions; nonprofits; and law firms. During that time, we have built relationships with industry influencers and key media people. We even make it a point to hire people who have backgrounds in these industries.
In that same vein, you should consider the type of services you require. All reputable PR firms will be able to help you write press releases and pitches and secure media placements, but public relations doesn't end there. Here are some other activities a PR firm should be able to help you do.
- Develop key messaging and a brand foundation statement.
- Conduct media training for your organization's spokespeople.
- Hold workshops for your staff on various PR and marketing-related skills, like social media, brand equity, and crisis communications.
- Create, promote, and manage events designed for public outreach and media relations.
- Write speeches and create presentations that will position your organization as a thought leader in your industry.
- Develop an integrated communications plan that includes earned, paid and online media (social media, content marketing, mobile marketing, etc.).
- Assist with website redesign, content development, and social media community management.
- Create a comprehensive crisis communications plan for your organization.
- Provide ongoing reporting that demonstrates their success.
At first blush, it may seem like bigger is better, but that all depends on your organization and its needs. Larger firms generally have a large staff that can jump onto an account and help you ramp things up quickly. However, they also tend to have more overhead, which usually translates into a larger bill for you.
Pushkin PR is a not one of the big guys. Instead, we have a small core staff and a team of regular contractors who each have specific skill sets. We have healthcare experts, social media specialists, and marketing mavericks who have worked with companies like Coca Cola, the Yankees, and the Cleveland Clinic. Many of our contractors are former journalists who use their writing chops and professional relationships to get our clients coveted media placements in publications like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, TIME, Newsweek, Money, USA Today, and the Associated Press.
One of the perks of outsourcing your PR is gaining access to sophisticated tools and software for conducting market research, building media lists of journalists and bloggers, and tracking and reporting media placements, social media mentions, and sentiment.
Because PR is all we do, we are able to purchase subscriptions to all the best tools and software so that we can provide our clients with the highest level of service and the most complete reporting. Before you sign on with a PR firm, ask them what tools and software they use and how that will benefit you.
This one is crucial, because it affects your bottom line. Find out what kind of billing structure the PR firm has. Will they work with you on a retainer basis, an hourly basis, a per project contract, or—like we do at Pushkin PR—any of the above?
Think about what would work best for your organization and your specific campaign. A flexible PR firm should be able to come up with an mutually beneficial arrangement.
Finally, and maybe most important, is personality. We think of our clients as partners and work hard to build a rapport and high level of trust and respect with them. We believe in authentic, straightforward communication and that strong, long-lasting brands are built on the core values of respect, trust, ethics and integrity. That’s how we have operated for the past 20 years, and those are the types of organizations we like to work with. If you feel the same, we will probably make a good team.
If you have questions about how to choose the right PR firm or what we can do for your organization, drop us a line or give us a call.
As a digital marketing strategist, Maribeth loves learning and writing about content marketing, social media, SEO, paid advertising, PR and mobile. She is obsessed with data-driven marketing and believes all online channels should be given a strategy, so engagement can be personalized and well targeted. In her free time, she likes watching science documentaries, hiking, skiing and traveling to far-flung places.