How do I select the best PR company
There are many PR companies around, how can you select the best for your needs?
Step 1 - Decide what you need
Why do you need a PR/Communications professional?
What issues do you face that you need assistance in - it’s best to write these down in detail along with some detailed objective evidence. This becomes the basis of the brief for the company you select. Also, know what your budget is and who are your target markets? Be clear what you want done and how m,uch you can pay, and only put doen 75-80% of your budget, things will run over.
Then check out the PR/Communications professionals your friends or colleagues have used, check the cards you've collected at events that were well run.Think back to events you've attended or promotional information you've received and been impressed with. Then use these to develop a short list of qualified professionals that meet you specific needs. Include some companies and free-lancers so you can see the pros and cons of each.
Step 2 - Shortlist
Contact the short-listed professionals, and ask them for their experience, and references and simply describe what you want. Remember PR and communications companies do communications for a living so their presentations to you should be good but should focus on how they help you rather than on why they are great. Ask for case studies of clients in similar industries and similar budgets to yours so you can see what they do and how well they do it. If you are planning a PR event/media preview, ask which event company they work with. If you require celebrities to attend your event, ask if they have connection and who they are able to get.
Step 3 - Look at their work and avoid bulls**t
When interviewing the professionals ask to see some of their work and resultant media coverage- have they done F&B, and done it well?
For their work if you don't understand their written releases, chances are reporters won't either. Look for clean, error-free copy with dates and contact information, is the writing clean clear and descriptive, or padded muddled and gushy? Also look for a clear description of what the company does. In their presentations to you, look for jargon (bullsh**t to us). Like all marketing and communications, some people try hard to make their jobs sound difficult by adding loads of industry jargon. Make sure the information you have is clear and understandable and avoids jargon. "Integrated" and "360 degree" are specific jargon that mean very little; it may mean the PR company plans to do everything everywhere… may not be what you want especially if you wish to be focused and selective.
Step 4 – Audience, message, media, results
All responses should be clear and to the point in describing who you will be focusing on (audience) what you’ll be saying (message) it should be relevant to the audience, distinctive from other companies and motivating to media to promote you, and where you’ll be saying it (media), and what the end result will be (results).
Try to avoid cookie cutter approaches and input related approaches (e.g. “we’ll send PR releases to 25 magazines”) seek results like “we’ll aim for a short piece plus picture in 3 out of these 5 selected magazines”.
Step 5 – Check references
It is worthwhile to talk to other clients of your chosen PR professional ask how they cope with budgets, with deadlines, with changes, with the media and importantly how well they work with clients. Are they able to discuss differences without getting personal? Do they respond quickly and helpfully? Do they stick to their budgets? Ask if they have “favourite” media that their work always appears in or reporters or celebrities they always use- if they are the best, great! Ask, was the investment worthwhile and did it work?
If you know any media people ask them which PR professionals they respect and have worked with positively in the past.
Step 6 – Sign a Contract
Agree in written form what they will do, what you will do, the budget; the results. And what percentage of the fee will be based on results. Ensure you know if you are paying a mark up or margin on things the company arranges or just paying a flat fee to the PR company.
Step 7 - Keep them informed
When anything changes make sure you update them as soon as possible.