01 Mar What to do before contacting a PR Agency
Written by Miranda Markham, Head of Industry at Action PR
Working with a PR agency can be a great opportunity. If you’ve identified the need to hire outside help to get you those much-coveted column inches, then you’ve probably made a wise decision. However, it’s important to do a little homework before approaching a PR agency to ensure that you get what you want from the relationship. Knowing what your expectations are, what success looks like and how you’ll measure it will help ensure you start things off on the right foot.
Before you even pick up the phone, send an email or issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to a prospective agency, here are four things you need to think about:
Are you actually ready for PR?
Just because you want people to know about your business doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready for PR. Sometimes, you need to take a step back before attempting to build a PR strategy. For example, do you have the basics set up? A functioning website? Product on shelves? Can you prove how your business is different from your competition? Do you really know who your target audience is? Do you have spokespeople who can talk to the media? Do you have someone in your business who will be able to work with the PR agency? If you can’t easily answer ‘yes’ to these questions, it might be best to wait until you’re better equipped in order to work most effectively with an agency.
What are you trying to achieve?
Before you start reaching out to PR agencies, consider the primary objectives you’re trying to meet. It’s important to have a clear answer to the question, “What am I trying to accomplish?” Perhaps you’re launching a new company and you want to drive awareness. Or, maybe you’ve changed the direction of your business and you want to try to change the perception of your brand. The more specific you can be about that goal, the better. Simply “getting the word out” isn’t good enough. Your objective should be more granular than that.
Whatever your goal, having a clear vision is essential before you even approach a PR agency.
Do you understand what PR can do for you?
Make sure you understand what PR agencies can actually do. PR is not advertising. While many PR agencies (like ours!) can also consult and execute on advertising campaigns, traditional PR is different. PR agencies cannot control the content or timing of coverage. Maybe your goal is to be on TV. That’s great! But remember: when hiring an agency, this is not a given. We inform, influence, and encourage coverage – both online, print and broadcast – but what actually comes out is up to the editor or broadcaster. Unless you’re already a household name, you have to be realistic about what sort of coverage a PR agency can generate for you – especially in the early days while your reputation is being built. PR agencies will always try to find ways to get you a big piece of news coverage, but it’s important to remember there is also value in things like company/product inclusion in features, networking/partnership introductions and expert comment to increase your share-of-voice and visibility.
What’s your budget?
Before you approach an agency, have an idea of your budget. Is it a one-off project budget? Or can you commit to a monthly retainer? Being open about money from the outset can help save a lot of hassle down the road. It will help ensure your prospective agency can reasonably accomplish your objectives within your budget. There’s no sense getting excited about a possible partnership, only to realise that your goals require 3x what you have. It’s best to start with a realistic budget and ask your agency to tell you what’s possible within it.
If having considered these four points and you’re ready to talk about what PR can do for your business, please get in touch. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org