How to Select a PR Firm

There are infinite ways to spend your advertising, public relations and marketing dollars, but only a few will pay off. How do you know which strategies will work? Once you decide, how do you make them work?

Professional, objective marketers should help you excel. They should know your market position and understand your key advantages and weaknesses. They should examine your current business development strategies and identify opportunities for leadership and staff. They should identify potential crises and, if necessary, help you navigate through them. They should shape a solution to fit your unique position.

First, focus your efforts.

When working with marketers, share a profile of your organization, its mission, key markets, issues of concern, evaluation of current and past marketing efforts and any market or public opinion research about your organization. Also, assemble an inventory of your public outreach, budget and commitment parameters, pertinent litigation and any special circumstances that would affect the marketing program

When and how to select a firm

The best time to consult marketing experts for an established company is before a major decision is made; for a new company, it is prior to launch.

When selecting a firm, be sure the principal of the agency will be directly involved in serving you; that the firm offers a range of services; that its professionals have sufficient depth of qualifications; that if they don't have the talent on staff, they can recruit outside experts with whom they have a successful track record. It is important that they spend the time to understand you, your goals and your company; that their learning curve is relatively short; and that they work efficiently and effectively, requiring but respecting your time.

Find out how they approach a challenge, how they analyze problems and opportunities. Do they think strategically? Different goals for different parts of your business may require multiple approaches. It is important that marketing experts possess the agility to apply their knowledge and experience to your unique situation.

A trumpet and a hearing aid

Effective marketers should help you promote your business and also present for your benefit input and intelligence from your clients, customers, competitors and industry. They need to articulate well, know how to listen and ask the right questions.

Finally, chemistry is important: Can you get along? Is there personal rapport? Are you able to brainstorm with them? Do they propose or stimulate new ideas? Are they flexible? Do you have a shared sense of mission?

Business management and the methods of delivering goods and services are rapidly evolving. You’ll have no shortage of those willing – for a fee – to help market your business.

But there are differences. Exceptional marketers will possess an abundance of experience, training and imagination. They will understand your business as it is now and help realize its full potential.