Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corporation once said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” When hiring a PR professional, a brand brings an experienced partner to help navigate the media marketplace and introduce your brand to millions of potential clients.
With that said, there is quite a bit of confusion about what PR is, how it works, and how PR is different from marketing. I often explain that marketing handles advertising, and PR handles press and media relationships. The late Steve Jobs of Apple gave a perfect summation, “Advertising is necessary for competition, but PR is necessary for education.”
PR is a strategic process of increasing brand awareness and establishing your company or CEO, founder, and so forth. With that said, how do you know when it is time to begin a PR program? You see competitors receiving coverage.You have something new to offer – a new location, leadership, treatment menu, and so on.Your brand has been around awhile, yet people say they have not heard about it.You feel stagnant and need something to rev up energy and sales.
STARTING YOUR SEARCH
Once you have decided to begin the search for a PR firm, there are three main things to do first. Define your goals. What do you want to achieve – brand awareness, attention for a specific product or program, sales, being an expert and thoughtful leader, television gigs in the local market, and so on? Lay out goals clearly before starting the search for a PR professional.Know the story and be ready to tell it. Before starting a PR program, it is important that your website, branding, marketing materials, and imagery are representative of your story and professional enough to be seen by journalists. Once onboard, a PR professional can help finesse these items and give them an editorial spin.Decide how you want PR to be managed. Should you hire a PR firm as a consultant or bring someone in-house as an employee? This decision is based on goals, budget, and team structure. This is a good time to chat with your certified public accountant about taxes, what you can afford, so forth. Regardless of in-house or a firm, think about who will manage the PR professional. A PR firm needs brand and product knowledge and most importantly, timely access to the right people for interviews. Determine who in the company is best suited for that role.
FINDING THE RIGHT FIT
Once you are clear on those areas, look for a PR professional who is part of the team, even if they are a consultant. One of the many benefits of partnering with a boutique PR firm is the personalized attention they offer. While that may sound controlling, it enables the professional to give very personalized service and become part of a client’s team for years.
Make sure the new PR hire knows your industry and geographic area. When you hire a PR professional within your niche market, they already understand what you do, and therefore, their learning curve is brief. Look for firms that specialize in spa, skin care, wellness, and beauty. If you want attention in your town or state, which I highly encourage, look for PR professionals that either live in the area or know the area well.
The PR professional needs to be an excellent writer and communicator. You can learn this by following their social media, reviewing their website, and reading their work. Choose a professional who is recommended by journalists. If you have existing relationships with journalists in the industry or town, ask which PR professionals they respect, like, and trust.Speaking of journalists, many PR professionals started out in journalism. Consider those with a journalism background when interviewing for a PR role.
Choose a professional you like. Most importantly, be sure there is chemistry. You will spend a lot of time talking with and being around your PR person. If you can’t imagine having a cocktail (or mocktail) with them, don’t hire them.