Hiring a public relations agency for your business can be a difficult decision. There’s no guarantee that a PR campaign will produce the desired results, and the costs can be quite high. Yet, a successful campaign can help you expand your business in ways you never could on your own.

With a new year ahead now is the time that previous activity is reviewed and new plans are drawn up. So how do you find a PR agency that is likely to benefit your business in 2017? Our Managing Director, Samantha Livingstone, believes there are five key points to consider:

  1. Budget
  2. Expectations
  3. Track Record
  4. Chemistry
  5. Measurement

PR practitioners will typically offer you a range of services based on your budget. Billing may be hourly, flat rates per project, or a blend of both hourly and project. Billing may also include a monthly retainer fee. Beware of hidden extras as well as being locked into a long-term contract. However, allow time for traction. Unlike advertising where you pay for an advert to appear on an exact date, PR is different.

PR requires the content to be engaging and for journalists to buy into the story; as a result, coverage is never guaranteed. Therefore, it can take some time to pull out the key messages, pitch to journalists and secure hits. Your billing will cover this period of pitching – the hours put in, in advance of any success. At Rumour Mill PR, we would recommend a company to allow at least one-two months, as a bedding in period. If we are not delivering after 60 days, then we will hold our hands up and speak with the client. There is no point barking into the wind…sometimes you need to step back and relook at the strategy.

The next question is, do you know what you want to achieve? What is your end goal? By having this clear in your mind, you will be able to ensure the agency is aware of your expectations and works to achieve them.

When PR firms pitch your business, they send in their best people. But sometimes you’ll probably be working most closely with lower-level employees. It’s important to find out who you will be working with day-to-day and spend time with them before deciding whether to hire the agency. Here at Rumour Mill PR, we pride ourselves on being small and perfectly formed. Our size allows us to be more intimate with our clients, to work collectively for the same goals. Who we put forward to pitch will ultimately be your day-to-day contact, because we understand that we need to be there from the start to understand the client and to build trust. After all, you are trusting us with your most valuable asset…. your brand.

Do they know your industry? What is their track record? You will probably benefit from hiring an agency that has experience with your type of business or sector. Ask to see results from past campaigns with clients in your industry. You should also find out if the people who managed those accounts are still with the agency because you may want to ask to work with them. Plus, why not speak directly to this client and get their feedback first-hand.

Finally, how does the agency measure success? Learning what metrics, they prefer will help gauge their PR measurement abilities. PR firms traditionally touted their media clips and advertising equivalency values (AVEs). However, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations warn that AVEs is a highly-flawed metric for measuring PR effectiveness. Instead, examine search engine rankings, inbound links, website traffic, leads and sales that PR campaigns produce. In addition, request timetables for reaching goals.

It’s an important decision. Choosing the wrong PR agency can at the very least waste your time and money, and at worst damage your reputation. We hope our tips will help you make the right choice.

Find out more about Rumour Mill PR via www.rumourmillpr.com

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