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Updated: June 26, 2023 Know How

How to work with a public relations firm

Your business has big growth plans, but to bring them to fruition, you need to do a better job telling the company’s story. It is at this point many companies decide to engage a public relations firm, but how you approach this task will likely determine the success of a PR campaign.

David A. Ball is the president & founder of Ball Consulting Group, LLC, a strategic communications firm working with Worcester-area organizations.

Consider the following to establish a productive relationship with a public relations partner:

Determine needs and budget

Before you even start to look for a PR firm, you must identify your particular needs. Are you looking for broad-based news coverage in consumer-facing outlets? Or is it a business-to-business approach that will necessitate targeting your message to the trade media? You may want to use more than one medium, such as creating engagement through social media. Sorting out your needs will ensure a more productive meeting with potential PR partners. You will want to establish a budget for the work.

Identify suitable partners

Relying on a web search to find potential PR partners is not the best approach. Talk with people in your professional network. Who has their company used, and how was their experience? Have they heard of firms with a good reputation for generating results?

It will be important to ensure the firms you are speaking with have experience in your sector. You will want to give some thought to the type of firm you need. National? Local? A national firm may give you a deep bench and a lot of firepower, but if you are a small account to them, you may not be dealing with very senior people. A small firm will likely give you greater access to the senior leaders in the firm.

Master the meetings

You will want to get up to three proposals so you can compare the different approaches and the different cultures of potential PR partners. Go into each meeting with the same questions and the same criteria. Ask them specifically how they will achieve the goals and objectives you have established. Ask them what timeframe they recommend for the work you have outlined.

It is also crucial you understand how they will staff the account. Who will be your day-to-day contact? How will you communicate with one another? Will there be regular meetings or ad hoc communications, or both? You will want to understand how much value you will be getting in relation to the fee they propose.

Get a written proposal from your potential partner and, once you have chosen a firm, a formal business agreement.

Set reasonable expectations

Even the best PR firms cannot usually generate breakthrough results immediately. Within a few weeks, however, your new PR partner should be able to articulate what it believes the pathway is for a successful campaign to generate major return on investment.

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Triciaq Oliver
June 30, 2023

Great advice David!

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