One frustrating thing for a business owner is to hire a PR firm or professional, then, six months later, discover they haven't achieved any results. There are a few reasons this happens, and the fault often lies on both sides of the relationship.
What follows are eight tips that may help you better understand what to expect when hiring a PR professional, along with some advice on how to make the relationship work best for you.
1. Develop a budget.
When hiring any outside firm to help you achieve your business goals, you must set a clear budget and stick to it. When it comes to PR, a good rule of thumb is one percent of revenue. Then you tell them what you have to spend and see how creative they can be within your parameters.
2. Develop clear goals.
All too frequently, business owners will ask the PR professional they've hired to estimate how many press stories and Facebook likes they can get for their companies in a three-month period. This isn't the question you should be asking. The first thing you need to do is determine what you want to accomplish. Is it increased revenue? A shortened sales cycle? Higher margins? Work backward from your business goals and invite the PR pro to work with you to determine the correct goals for your business.
3. Define meaningful PR metrics.
After you determine what your goals are, you should decide what metrics you'll need to use to track them. Too often a business owner assumes they should track PR success by the number of stories that appear in the press, increased traffic to their site or additional Facebook fans. These are the wrong PR metrics to measure. If you aren't measuring leads generated, leads nurtured and leads converted, you aren't measuring the right things.
4. Work hard to find the right fit.
Chemistry is extremely important when you're working with a PR professional. This is the person (or team) who will advise you on all of your communications efforts, whether you’re meeting with your board, talking to the media, going to a customer event or attending a trade show. A good fit goes a long way in helping get your messaging right.
5. Work as partners.
Once you find the right PR professional, treat them as a partner, not a vendor. If they’re the right fit, they can act as a true business partner to help your business grow. Treat them as such, and the results will reflect it.
6. Start with a project.
It's very common for any proposal you get from your PR pro to be for a full-year campaign that's retainer-based. That's fine if you're confident the relationship is going to work and you have great chemistry. If you aren't quite sure, however, ask them to do a shorter project for you. It should have very clear parameters with defined objectives, expectations and a budget. It also shouldn't last longer than six months.
7. Ask for weekly or bi-weekly status meetings.
Don't just show up for these check-ins—come prepared. While this meeting will be an opportunity for the PR pro to go through the things they need from you (additional information, approvals, scheduling), you should also have an agenda. Ask for a status update but also track against metrics and agreed-upon goals.
Some of the most well-known business owners are successful because they’re intimately involved in their company's PR efforts. While a PR pro can help open doors and get you in front of the right people, it's up to you to participate and make it a priority.
By putting some time and effort into each of these activities, you can more easily control and enhance the relationship you have with the PR pro so your business benefits from the relationship.
For more insights on how one company turns trending data into actionable pitches, access our exclusive video series, A Data Driven Approach to PR.
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