Whether your business is new, small, mid-sized, fast-growth and/or well-established, you may have wondered about the right time to bring in an external PR firm or consultant. As an owner of a PR firm working in the field for more than 25 years, I know that PR is a smart investment for many businesses and organizations, regardless of size. However, not everyone is ready to make the investment. In fact, some businesses may never need to hire external help.
Here are a few key indicators that your business is ready to bring in outside PR expertise:
- You have time. That translates into a designated in-house individual, preferably senior level communications pro, to manage the PR person or firm. PR takes time, consistency and frequency. We need regular care and feeding, and can only produce as good as we get.
- You have a budget. Real dollars, not just a few thousand dollars to get you through the year. I can’t tell you how many young businesses – and even a few more established businesses – think that they can generate results from a few thousand dollars. That may be OK if all you want is a press release and the follow up time it requires, but you’ll never get the train too far out of the station. Again, per bullet point above -- this takes frequency and consistency over time. The price range can be broad. Larger public relations firms with corporate clients can charge $20K per month or higher; mid-sized firms with mid-sized clients may hover around $8-12K per month; small firms with small businesses, including non-profits tend to charge less. However even non-profits should have a budget ready, unless they have formed a sponsorship or pro-bono arrangement with a firm.
- You are launching a new business, service, product, or event series and you can commit to a PR plan for at least a year. That means, you will need to work with your PR representative to develop an editorial calendar slotted with post announcement story ideas, news hits, bylined articles, events, etc to keep the news pipeline filled. (i.e., you need to be and stay newsworthy.) *With special events, it may not be necessary to commit to a year of PR support, but hopefully, the event is part of a larger marketing strategy that does require longer-term assistance.
- Your business has a proven track record with success stories and/or metrics to share. A big chunk of public relations is media relations. Media and even influencers (aka top bloggers and social media stars) must have news or very interesting stories to tell. (see bullet point above)
- You understand that PR will build credibility and awareness, but not necessarily sales. Your PR partner could place a lovely, two-page story in your industry trade or monthly city magazine, but that does not necessarily equal a bump in sales. It WILL increase brand awareness, especially as these placements continue; and it should make the sales process more fruitful if properly leveraged.
- You want PR for the right reasons. In a nutshell, don’t seek a PR firm to make you or your business an instant household name. As I read in a great article on PR in The Observer, “Ego-driven PR is not a strategy; it’s a waste of everyone’s time and money.” Your PR firm can drive attention to your brand messages and concrete examples that set you apart from the crowd, but we’re not here to make you famous.
- You have patience. It’s been said time and again: public relations is a marathon vs a sprint. There’s no magic formula on length of time or investment required, so find an experienced, ethical PR representative who will be a valued partner with external perspective.
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