Hiring a public relations agency is a positive, proactive step in building your brand and reaching the right audiences with your message. While most searches will start with the internet, don’t forget other sources for recommendations: professional organizations, colleagues, and even competitors will be able to offer suggestions on who to consider (and just as importantly, who to avoid). Once you’ve identified some potential PR firms to hire, it’s time to take a closer look at their qualifications:
People and practices. In a large part, you’ll be entrusting your business’ reputation to a public relations agency, so it’s key to have good chemistry with—and confidence in—its management and staff. Do some sleuthing, and check out their LinkedIn profiles and professional bios. Follow up with a face-to-face meeting, and find out who will work on your account and in what capacity.
Corporate culture. Will you be best served by working with a large PR firm, with a traditional organizational structure and resources? Or would you find a small, specialized shop that’s an upstart in the industry more in keeping with your own business style? Think about whether you want to be challenged—or complemented—by your public relations team.
Results. As with any hire, you’ll need to get and vet references for every public relations agency you are seriously considering. There are two sides to this: feedback from the firm’s current and former clients, and recognition by the PR industry. Ambitions are all well and good, but achievements are what counts.