Thinking of hiring a public relations agency or publicist? Any business or brand wants exposure. If people aren’t aware of you, how are they going to find you and become a client or customer?! They won’t, but still, there are two things that hold people back from hiring a PR firm or consultant (like me).
One is budget. Yes, you have to pay someone for their time and expertise. Nine times out of 10, it’s not as much as advertising and much more effective. The second is knowledge of the business. Many people don’t understand how the business works and once you hire a firm or publicist, it can be a learning experience. So, before you hire PR, read this:
- Find out how they work. When I say “they” I mean the person working on your account. The actual person. Usually, the person selling you on hiring their firm, isn’t the person who will be working on your account. Make sure you know who you will be working with and what their experience and connections are. Don’t fall for the person making the sale. At my last firm, the person closing the deal would make all kinds of promises and then would hand the client over to me. Many times I knew nothing of the promises or they were really far fetched.
- Know your goals. As a media specialist, that is what I base my work on – what the clients goals are. Why do you want publicity and where do you want it? Also, have realistic expectations. That leads me to a red flag…
- Have realistic expectations. If it was easy to get you on Good Morning America or in Entrepreneur Magazine, then every PR firm would have bragging rights until the cows come home. You’re not going to get national media coverage every week. That’s just not the way it works. We wish it did just as much as you do. So listen, when a PR firm starts talking like, “I can get you covered in this magazine or an appearance on that show,” make them put it in writing because chances are they are just selling you with great hopes and dreams. In the world of PR, we cannot control writers, producers, bookers, etc. We cannot guarantee coverage in anything just like a doctor can’t guarantee to cure your cancer, but like a doctor, we will use our time, experience, and expertise. If any PR firm starts making promises like this, either get it in writing… or run.
- Be prepared to pay for the job. No, you cannot pay after you get media coverage. PR does not work like that, so stop asking. Again, with the doctor. Do you only pay a doctor after you are healed? No, because some things are out of the doctor’s control, but a job is still being done. I have heard of some firms and people charging a lower monthly rate, and then a separate higher fee for each earned media hit, but that adds up fast and usually ends up being more expensive.