You can conduct a PR campaign in-house. However, if you have the budget, you will get better results from employing the services of a PR agency. A good company will offer comprehensive skills and experience, creativity and a wide range of press contacts.
However, choosing the right company is vital – make sure you know what you are going to be getting for your money.
Choose people you trust and think you can work with
They may not be based in your building, but you’ll find yourself regularly on the phone to your PR company. As more journalists become interested in your brand you may end up working with these individuals quite closely so it’s vital you are on the same wavelength.
Choose a straight-talking company
PR also has a reputation for being vague and ‘fluffy’. You will get better results if you choose a company that uses plain English and is upfront and honest about what they can do and achieve, for you.
When you approach a PR company they will usually suggest a meeting to find out more about you.
Give them as much information about your business as you can. Share your business plan – you can always get them to sign a non disclosure agreement first. Tell them your business aspirations – where do you want to be in one, five, 10 years? Tel them about existing marketing plans and show them any creative work. The better your briefing, the better the quality of their response will be.
The proposal should show you the approach they will take to publicise your business, and should demonstrate that they understand both your business and your industry.
Creativity and focus
If you are a smaller company you will have less news, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be written about. The days of press release driven PR are over and agencies have to be more creative. Ask your potential agency to provide examples of creativity – case studies will help to illustrate.
It is also important that your agency is focused on strategic and proactive activity. Pinging out untargeted press releases will attract journalist’s attention but not in a positive way. Receiving irrelevant press releases annoys journalists and can actually put them off writing about you, or worse write a negative article.
Help your PR company to help you
The more you help your PR agency, the more successful the campaign will be. Here are some tips on how to work together to get results:
• Your agency should be able to help you position your brand – identifying key messages and brand values for example. But to help your agency do this, you should also discuss your target audiences and how you would like to be perceived by them, then your agency can work out how to best get your message across.
• Have regular meetings and expect regular updates.
• Tell your agency what feedback you have from individual articles. Then they can repeat past successes.
Anyone can advertise if they have the budget, but when a journalist writes about you it is a stamp of approval because they have considered you worth writing about. This is why editorial has up to ten times the value of advertising. When you consider that the cost of a full-page advertisement in The Sunday Times is around 56,000, the value of effective PR cannot be overstated.