May 7, 2020

The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a PR Agency

Anshika Awasthi

Sometimes, a press release about your business’s new product launch, significant hire or a digital campaign fails to pick up the coverage you were expecting. The world craves juicy stories and viral marketing campaigns, but standing out in an ocean of conventional pitches is one of the biggest challenges for businesses. This is where a PR agency has to come to play.

Whether you’re running a small business, a remote business etc. hiring a PR agency does not simply come with a finger snap. Anywho, we’ve come to your rescue with the ultimate guide of hiring a PR Agency.

What is a PR Agency?

A PR agency is an external arm of a company, which works for the client for a fee, assisting the client/company on various aspects of PR ranging from counselling to meet the short term and long term public relation goals as far their relevance to the various publics is concerned.

In simple language, a PR agency is a professional outfit which works independently for a fee. It is a very demure and professionally sound organisation which gets associated with another business company to serve as a public arm to the company in all matters related to a company’s business activities. It is not a ‘kiss and goes’ relationship, but a marriage of two professional outfits based on understanding and trust.

How do I choose a PR agency?

The relationship between the PR agency and client is purely based on a business-like association. All client invariably expects their agency to be effective and assist them in accomplishing PR role. Although an agency is retained by the client as an independent professional consultancy service with trust, yet the relationship is rather sensitive and fragile. According to some PR practitioner, there are certain parameters to choose a PR agency fitting best for your business.

Understanding the client’s PR Objectives

Most professional companies have their corporate PR objectives and annually review and rewrite them with an invitation to the agency to participate in the exercise. It is of prime importance for both the client and the agency to fully understand the intent and content of objectives. The level of knowledge in providing creative ideas and opportunities by the agency serves as a basis for the best agency selection.

Responsiveness to client’s brief

Experienced PR professionals understand that client brief giving details about the platforms etc., from which the corporations wish to address the public. Only if understood properly in intent and content, the agency finds itself on track to think about strategies and actions that keep campaigns on track. This skill of perception helps choose a responsive PR agency.

Ability to plan creative events

Organising ‘out of the box’ & creative PR events and management abilities are considered as a plus point for an agency. Some PR agencies have their event management departments, going by the success rate of such events and the results, a client may judge the agency for its effectiveness.

Ability to devise effective communications

A PR agency with wider exposure in the business world is most likely to have the upper hand. Due to wide exposure, an agency is quite often in a position to devise a better creative communication solution in several corporate areas. Therefore, an agency based on the inputs and advise it renders serves as an important point in choosing the best PR agency.

Influential media network

A good PR agency is expected to have a wider reach to media men through constant networking. This is also a measure of the effectiveness of the PR agency to show their clients the volume of publicity they generate now and then. The client can tacitly calculate the agency performance by the volume of telecast time or advertising space earned by them in past.

How to Hire a PR Agency?

Set your objectives

Once, you’ve chosen some PR agencies of your liking, it’s time to ask yourself questions like, “What do I want to accomplish working with a PR agency?”, and “How can a PR agency help me reach my goal?”, you’ve already surpassed the stage of measuring challenges faced by you in managing your team.

Now that you have a goal in mind, it’s time to break your goal into sub-category by deciding the type of PR agency you want to hire. For example, you want to create a digital presence, you might want to work with PR agency expertise in digital campaigning etc.

Create a budget

The cost factor, to any business, is a single factor that influences many decisions. Naturally, the client looks for value for money. Budget creation starts with considering how much you are willing to spend on PR efforts. Align your goals, consider hidden costs an.  never forget you’re prioritise

Research PR firms

After your goals are set and budgets have been created, it’s time to research the best PR agency which aligns with your company’s objectives. Remember the points mentioned above to research the right kind of PR agency fit.

Write a list of questions to ask

After researching the right PR agency, you might want to clear your motives by asking questions about:

  • Price
  • Previous experience
  • Prior success
  • Expertise
  • Reviews/testimonials

List of questions might include:

·”Do you specialize in a certain industry?

·”How will you get us media coverage?

·”How do you measure success?

·”How do you plan to work with our marketing team?

·”What do the first few months look like?

·”What’s your pricing structure?

·”Can I see work you’ve done for businesses in my industry?

·”Can I contact past clients?

·”Do your employees have experience working in marketing and sales as well?

On-board your PR firm

The final step for hiring a PR agency is to go through the onboarding process. Figuring out who the contact person is discussing all the communication goals and objectives of the company.

Final Thought

Although much as the company may want to give information to an agency about the sensitive objectives, goals, yet it is neither professional nor logical for a company to give a valuable undertaking to an agency. Since the total business environment is constantly exposed to changes, such assurances may boomerang on the company, hence not advisable.

How much does a PR agency cost?

According to the 2019 Holmes Report, PR budgeting and agency spend has been increasing.

A total number of CMOs & COOs who were managing budgets of more than:

  • < $100 million reported PR accounting for 31% of the budget.
  • $75 million- $100 million, budgets dropped by 6%.
  • $50 million- $75 million, budgets increased by 17%.

Overall, the PR pay will vary depending upon the services you need and the location. Agencies charge on an hourly, retainer, or project basis.

The current average cost of public relations is about $3000-$5000 per month with $1000 being the lowest.

Bottom Line

A company, while signing up an agency, needs to check on the competence level of the agency and also the compatibility with the client’s status and business. A PR agency if hired aptly can work wonder to your business’s product/service, or drive traffic to your site or might establish your digital presence. But in all appropriateness, the client company will only benefit and flourish if the agency is chosen correctly.

About the author

Competitive, real; loves to keep working for what it wants. An extrovert who lives by her own ideas and methods.


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