Any publicity is good publicity, that’s right isn’t it? No, no no!
If you are going to engage in a PR strategy then you need to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons with the right message. And most importantly you need to make sure you are going to get an outcome from it that is worthy of the budget.
Many organisations find themselves being advised to do PR with no real idea what they are hoping to achieve or why they are doing it. And this isn’t the best foundation for any key business decision.
So, what are three things you should consider before jumping in head first?
It is important to understand why you are hoping to engage with a PR strategy in the first place. What are your current challenges? What are your business goals? And who do you have in the company that can act as the thought leader you desperately need?
An agency can help you figure a lot of this out in the early stages but the first quarter will be far more productive if you have decided some of it already. The best way to do this is to first agree what you think as a small team and then involve others. Widen the net to the sales teams and ask what they need to help them sell? Ask the account managers the challenges that your customers are facing? And ask the MD what he thinks about the state of the industry. Before you know it you will have an idea of who you need to target, what you want to say and what you want to achieve by doing it.
There are lots of different types of PR agencies out there, some big, some small, some digital focused, some more traditional. My advice would be to go for an agency that has clients similar to yourself and some expertise in your field. There is no point hiring a creative digital agency that has mood rooms, fluffy cushions and an absolutely insane office if one, you don’t have the budget to match and two, a business or product that fits those needs.
You want to work with someone that understands your challenges, your goals and most of all, your business. If the agency can provide case studies of similar companies with similar problems, they are probably worth a chat. Also, if your retainer matters to the agency’s payroll as much as your PR spend matters to your business then you are more likely to get the service your deserve. Big isn’t always better. Keep your options open.
This is probably the most important aspect of all, as you can’t start negotiating an agreement if you don’t have a budget. Once you understand what your goals are and what you are looking for from a PR agency you will probably start to better understand how important the strategy will be to your business. It is important to be realistic with your budget and understand that the agency might not be able to deliver everything you are asking for within that.
A lot of agencies will be able to give you a rough idea of what can be achieved within a certain budget after a phone call to discuss your requirements. It is then up to you to negotiate around that. And don’t be afraid to ask about whether the agency will charge expenses, travel and additional items on top of the retainer price. If they do, this can soon add up to a lot more than you were planning on spending.
Are you ready for PR? Use our flowchart to find out!