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Ready for PR? Three Tips for Finding the Right Partner

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We get it. Seeking out the right PR partner can be daunting. If you’re a startup, you may not even be fully sold on the idea of PR—you’ve heard repeatedly that you need it, but you’re not quite sure why or where to start. If you’re a Fortune 500 company, you’re a pro at corporate communications and are looking for the right partner to help guide and execute strategy and get your message to the masses. And, if you’re somewhere in-between, you may be starting to look at PR options or simply considering changing your partner because you aren’t seeing results. Either way, the question to ask yourself is—how do I find the right PR partner?

Understand Your Business Goals & Choose a Strategic Partner

One of the first questions we ask potential clients is ‘what are your business goals?’ As PR practitioners, we need to understand your vision for the company and what you’re looking to accomplish in the next quarter, year or decade. That way, we can ensure the proposed PR strategy doesn’t just land you a pretty picture in the paper—it aligns with your business and helps you grow.

When interviewing potential PR partners, ensure the presenting PR team discusses strategy and business goals vs. quick wins and flashy plaques. Building and maintaining a reputation takes time and, when done correctly, can significantly grow brand awareness and improve the bottom line. That’s not to say the right PR partner can’t work with you on quick placements, but ensure they focus on the longevity of your brand and have long-term strategic ideas for impact AND sustainability. Results drive the bottom line, so ensure your PR partner has the business sense to help take your company to the next level.

Ask Yourself: Would I Hire These People as Employees/Colleagues?

You’ve done your research—you’ve polled your network, did a few social media and Google searches, and maybe used some type of software. As a result—you’ve narrowed it down to five potential firms. Each of these companies has a great online presence, relevant clients, and services you may be looking for. Now what? Whether you’re putting out a request for proposal (RFP) or simply reaching out for an introductory call or meeting, it’s essential to spend the time with all your potential partners and truly understand their approach, the people you’d be working with, relevant experience, potential conflicts and what a successful campaign looks like to them.

At the end of the day, you’re hiring top experts in this field. And, you’re retaining a team that will act as an extension of your team. Take the time to understand the type of work and industries the agency specializes in and their potential approach to your business. Also, get to know the people who would be on your account. You may be speaking with these people daily and you need to rely on them just the same, if not more, than employees. As PR professionals, we have the tools and contacts to do the job, but we also need to have the right experience and be a cultural fit for your business.

Understand Their Approach to Innovation

The media landscape is continuously changing—as is technology. While marketing and PR are still guided by the same core principles they have been for years, the tools are quite different today than they were even five years ago. With information at consumers’ fingertips, it’s getting harder and harder for brands to break through the noise. Yet, many do and they do so successfully thanks to the right PR partners and initiatives.

When speaking with a potential PR partner, understand their approach to innovation—what are they doing differently from any other practitioner that will help your brand grow? How are they innovating to keep up with the industry? What makes them unlike any other firm and how do they keep it up? And, while you’re at it—inquire about their core values. The answer may be telling of how creative, nimble and responsive the potential partner will be.

Public Relations helps companies create and maintain a good reputation and grow brands, both of which are essential to the success of any company, regardless of size. And, finding the right PR partner to properly communicate your story is key. While seeking out the right PR agency or practitioner may seem overwhelming, remember that, at the end of the day, you are hiring someone who will be by your side through thick and thin—someone you can trust, who is responsive, reliable, creative and a great storyteller. Spend time with every potential partner and get to know them before signing on—the more you invest upfront, the better the end results.

By Anna Crowe, CEO

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