In her conclusion Dietrich suggests that if you aren’t ready to hire a full-scale PR firm, you can hire a freelancer or a smaller PR Firm. We see ourselves as boutique firm — our agency has under ten employees, but we handle as many as 10 clients at any given time. Some of these clients are multi-million dollar companies, but lots of them are self-published authors, “solo-preneurs,” or boutique businesses just like ours. Our firm, as well as most of our clients, are not the likely target readers Dietrich was aiming for, as she’s speaking to larger businesses looking to hire a big agency.
Never the less, many of her points apply to our relationships with our clients. We thought we’d share Dietrich’s article, along with a few of our own ideas, from the perspective of the boutique firm.
Here is how you know you’re ready to hire a PR firm:
1. You know what PR is in today’s digital age.
Dietrich from PR Daily: A majority of PR firms will still pitch themselves to you as a media relations house. They’ll call themselves a PR firm, but all they’ll do for you is pitch stories on your behalf.
If you hire a firm that only does media relations, you will think it’s a huge waste of time and money about six months from now. I hear it all the time: “Oh, they were great at getting stories about us, but it didn’t really do anything. It was a waste of money.”
Seeing your name in print is great for your ego, but it does not make the cash register ring. If the firms you interview don’t talk about how to integrate media relations into a larger communications or marketing program, you will feel like you’ve wasted your money.
ABPR advice to the boutique client: A good publicist should always be thinking about sales. Our number one question should be, “will it sell X?” In the book-publishing world (which is our core business), we see ourselves in service to the sales team. How can WE help YOU sell more books? What kind of hit will make Barnes & Noble, Costco, Amazon or Urban Outfitters buy more copies? What is the buyer at Paper Source, or your target retailer reading? What blogs do they follow? Do they care about tweets? Facebook posts? Instagram?
As a client, you can help your publicist do this by giving us permission to work directly with your marketing and sales teams. We know how to work collaboratively and merge our ideas into their plans. When you are looking at firms, always look for a firm (or freelancer) who can collaborate with internal efforts.
If you are a smaller business that doesn’t have a specific Sales and Marketing team, some good questions to ask yourself are: how am I currently growing my online platform? Do I have great website? Do I have a Twitter? A Facebook or Instagram? If you aren’t utilizing these tools, this is going to the first place you need to start. A boutique firm like ABPR can help you get started, but you’ll get more bang for your buck if you’ve already done the ground work.
2. You’re ready to share your business goals.
Dietrich from PR Daily: This means even in the introductory meetings. Have the firm sign a non-disclosure agreement if that makes you feel better, but don’t hide your goals.
We once had a prospect tell us their search engine optimization had decreased significantly and they didn’t know why. When we asked for access to their analytics, they didn’t want to give it to us. We can’t help you if we don’t know what you’re trying to achieve.
ABPR advice to the boutique client: Dietrich is dead on here for clients of all sizes — as your partner it’s key to know what we’re working toward, and how we’re performing against those metrics.
But an additional question for boutique clients we often ask is “What are your goals?” Sometimes when you’re the Sales Director, the Marketing Director, the Operations Director and the Receptionist, it can become easy to lose the forest for the trees. If you don’t have specific goals tailored to various parts of your business: page view goals for your website, sales metrics, etc., then it is probably to sit down and make some. You’ll have a much more rewarding experience with a PR Firm if they know exactly what metrics to hit.
Have you recently hired a PR Firm? Do you wish you had done anything differently? Stay tuned — this is just Part One in a Three Part series about hiring a PR firm. We’ll be back tomorrow with more of our thoughts!