A company hires a public relations agency in order to ensure that the general public sees the business in a favorable light. There are a number of strategies and approaches that go into a successful campaign.
It is often difficult to manage both a PR campaign and a profitable company at the same time. Therefore, many CEOs outsource to an agency that specializes in this type of work. Finding the right one is often tantamount to finding a needle in a haystack. Preplanning and research can make the search much easier.
Before you go asking other professionals for references or searching the web, you should sit down and define what you expect to get out of hiring a PR firm and how success will be measured. These include increased hits to your websites, likes to your Facebook page, more coverage in key publications, or additional awards and speaker opportunities for your executives. Regardless of what you decide, it is paramount that everyone understands what is required of them.
It is also imperative that you understand the different types of PR including media relations, community relations, and crisis communications. You need to decide which ones you want and what you can do without because some firms are really good at organizing community partnerships and events, but not have the same expertise when it comes to handling corporate crisis and media training.
Once you have found several reputable firms that have the expertise you desire and that you would like to work with, you need to set up a time to interview each of them. Be sure that the people you are meeting with are the people you will be working with and not just a pitch team designed to bring in business. Additionally, if you will have executives besides yourself that will be handling communications, they should be at the meeting, as well.
The first question you should ask is whether or not the PR agency has worked in your industry previously. This information can ensure that there is no conflict of interest. If they have experience in your field, then find out if you can work with those that have experience in your field. You will then have the benefit of working with people who already know what works. This will also help to get the agency become acclimated to your company’s background and history. The executives should also have some knowledge as to what your competition is up to, so they can do the same for you.
Be sure to also find out about the price of the services as they have to fit into your budget, and the terms of the contract, including length, what happens if either side is not happy, and what exactly is included. You need to know if you have to pay more for a media coach and the like. You should also ask about how the two companies should communicate and what they need from you in order to launch a successful campaign.