When NOT to Hire a PR Agency

When NOT to Hire a PR Agency

The marketing and/or media savvy entrepreneur already knows the many advantages to working with a Public Relations firm. PR agencies come in many sizes and shapes. Some agencies focus on a particular industry, some work on specific causes and some develop specialties such as celebrity representation or crisis communications.

PR is Dead! The press release is Dead! The PR pro will soon be extinct! Someone out there is trying to kill off everything “PR.” These types of claims are laughable and wishful thinking.

The fact is that PR as an industry is experiencing incredible growth.

Conversely in the past five years, advertising budgets have shrunk to a new low, layoffs are at an all time high and the advertising industry is experiencing a real decline across the board. PR budgets have: increased by a minimum of 10 – 20% (depending on industry), PR hiring is expected to increase this year by another 20 -25% over 2010 and over 65% of executives surveyed see the real value that PR brings to the table. These execs plan to emphasize PR as the primary communications tool for their company.

The reasons for this success are many:

  • PR continues to provide cost-effective communications – as compared to advertising and other expensive communications tools
  • The advent of Social Media – has been a nice shot in the PR arm and SM fits nicely into the PR function
  • A noticeable increase of RFPs and other contracts being directed specifically to PR firms
  • PR firms embracing and using technology to further communications objectives

But how does a company select a PR firm? Unfortunately not every PR firm is a good PR firm, and not every PR pro has real PR experience (Warning: there are many charlatans masquerading as PR experts). Here are some scenarios to avoid:

I can get you in the Wall Street Journal, guaranteed!
No experienced and knowledgeable PR pro would ever make the claim that they can guarantee you media coverage. If someone makes a guarantee as this, run the other way, FAST!

The PR monthly retainer will be at least 15K and up!
These agencies give the rest of us a bad name. Isn’t PR supposed to be cost-effective? These PR Divas collect fat checks because of the name on their door and produce little to no results.

Who needs Social Media anyway?
This PR firm is stuck in the last century. They have no clue as to how technology and PR have evolved and are not mutually exclusive. The contrary is true, PR and technology compliment each other and work well hand-in-hand.

I was a DJ before I started doing PR.
As I said earlier, there are many pretenders in PR. They have never written a coherent article to save their life and they have never placed a meaningful story with any media. Ask many questions, including about their background.

Hi, I’m Susie and I’ll be handling your account.
If the people you interviewed will not manage your PR but is handed down to the greenest person on their roster, it’s going to be a disaster. You just got sold. Make sure the people you hire will actually work on your account.

It’s been four months and we are still studying your business and industry.
What have they been doing all this time, besides taking your CASH? If you don’t see real results or movement within the first few weeks, you just made a horrible mistake.

Before you sign over that first check please: do your due diligence ? ask many questions ? inquire about past results ? ask about price, BUT do compare apples to apples ? ask about their background ? ask to meet the actual people assigned to work on your account and ask them many questions ? speak to their references.

These are some of the actions you can take to make sure you hire the right PR firm for your business. Should you have further questions or have a comment, please feel free to leave us a note.

Image: Bob Barr, "Bob Barr Press Conference 5-12-08 062", via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution

Posted by Eli Hernandez on 03/08 at 03:40 PM in Public Relations

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