Blog : Belfast Agency



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.

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Five lucky children from across Northern Ireland are to have their festive wish, an appeal to help the homeless, granted by Phoenix Natural Gas.

Phoenix Natural Gas having called for children who had recently visited the MAC to cast their wish into its Phoenix Wishing Well, pledged to make one come true. Over 1000 wishes were received; some funny, some imaginative and some especially heartfelt. Having reviewed all the entries, it became evermore clear that the one selfless plea from the youngsters was to help the growing number of homeless people on our streets.

The winning wishes were received from Rosie Graham (10) from Ballyclare, Max Holden (6) from Newtownabbey, Rhiana Graham (11) from Armagh and siblings Abigail (9) and Ryan Love (12) from North Belfast, who were at the MAC along with their brother and sisters to present Phoenix Natural Gas’s donation to the Welcome Organisation.

Cathy Magovern, Marketing & Events Manager at Phoenix Natural Gas said, “We were overwhelmed by the number of wishes cast in aid of the homeless in Northern Ireland. Children visiting the MAC over Christmas had the opportunity to wish for anything they desired, yet many chose to sacrifice their wants in aid of those less fortunate – an entirely altruistic act.

“We reached out to the Welcome Organisation in Belfast to see how a donation on behalf of the children could be best utilised. From speaking with them, it became apparent that homelessness is about more than having a roof over your head. People become and stay homeless for a whole range of complex and coinciding reasons. That is why we are delighted to work with the organisation to provide those that visit their centre with essential lifestyle skills through a £1500 donation to help deliver 100 hours of cookery lessons.”

Kieran Hughes, from The Welcome Organisation, said: “The Welcome Organisation is delighted to be able to help the five winners fulfil their Christmas wish to help the homeless thanks to this wonderful initiative by Phoenix Natural Gas and the MAC.

“The £1500 will allow us to provide essential skills for some of the 1,400 homeless people who use our services every year. It will provide our service users with the chance to learn new skills and rediscover old skills that they may never have had the opportunity to do. These skills will help some of the most vulnerable people in our community to have a brighter future.

“We would like to thank Phoenix Natural Gas, the MAC and all the young people made who made their pledge in the Phoenix Wishing Well.”

Anne McReynolds, Chief Executive of the MAC adds: “We are delighted with the positive response to the Phoenix Wishing Well competition and inspired by the generosity of spirit shown by our young theatre goers.”