Just like celebrities require paparazzi to keep the world up-to-date with their every move, a startup also needs a PR agency to be on the public’s radar.
Whilst there are so many ways to put your startup out there, hiring a PR agency is one of the most effective ways to ensure consistent publicity and wide outreach.
The right PR agency will speed up your marketing efforts and create a bigger impact for your startup.
However, for first-timers, the process of hiring a PR agency can be daunting and tricky. As a startup owner, every investment has to be treated with caution.
Furthermore, working with a PR agency is a great financial decision that requires a lot of examination to ensure the investment is worth it.
So how do you go about choosing the right PR agency for your startup?
Here are 10 reassuring ways:
1. Conduct Comprehensive Research
When you find a list of PR firms that you are likely or willing to work with, go detective mode on them.
- Ask relevant questions.
- Outline the pros and cons of working with them.
- Research companies’ past experiences with them.
- Look into their case studies; is that the result you want to see for your startup?
- Check out their websites, socials, and general online presence.
It’s not sufficient to make your decisions based on an article giving surface insights of a PR firm, dig deeper for relevant information.
What’s their track record like, their unique selling points, their weak points, and what can they deliver?
All these will give you a thorough understanding of the prospective firm you decide to work with.
2. Have a Checklist
The easiest way to narrow down the sea of options when making a choice is to have criteria that your ideal PR firm should embody.
This is not just some generic criteria but one that is unique to your startup.
What do you seek in a PR firm, can they help you achieve your startup’s goals, do their strategies complement your marketing campaign?
Also, are they up to date with digital trends, are they experienced in the SEO field?
Use these questions and more to create a checklist and make sure the PR firm you decide on tick most or all the boxes.
3. Outline Your Budget
How much are you willing to invest in collaborating with a PR firm? What method of payment are you going to implement, is it a flat fee or performance-based?
Do you want your partnership to be ongoing or one-off projects?
Before you go ahead to consult the services of a PR firm, look at the exact details of what it will cost you at the end of the day.
Always make it a priority to check out their packages and ensure it fits your budget.
How much can your startup afford, are you better off with a consultant or a full-blown agency.
Remember as a startup, you can’t afford to waste money in the slightest sense.
4. Don’t Let The Big Names Deceive You
Bigger doesn’t mean better, popular doesn’t equal right for you. It’s easy and tempting to have your eyes hooked on big or authoritative PR firms with impressive portfolios.
However, they might not be the right fit for your goals; smaller firms with a great reputation are can offer you 10x your money’s worth in comparison to bigger firms.
With smaller firms, you can have their full attention and they will be more involved in every step to see that you accomplish your desired results.
It will feel more personal and engaging to work with them especially for first-timers.
5. Outline Your Expectations
What do you want to see at the end of the day? You need to be certain that your expectations match the reality of a PR firm’s past experiences.
This will bring about transparency from both sides and cut out false assumptions of what a PR firm should do vs what they can do for you.
Before the partnership is finalized in your consultation meetings, let them know what you want to get out of the partnership.
You need to carefully listen to their responses and plans on how they can help you attain your goals.
6. Enthusiasm/Vibe Check
What vibes or feelings do you get on the prospect of working with a PR firm? Is it that of excitement, nonchalance, or dread?
Finding a PR firm that gets the job done is not enough, you have to be enthusiastic about working with them.
You are going to be working closely with them regularly hence great work chemistry should be prioritized.
A bad feeling about a PR firm shouldn’t be ignored — you feel that way for a reason. Therefore, don’t get blindsided by what’s on paper. How do you see yourselves getting along?
You might deem this to be insignificant, meanwhile, it will have a great impact on the quality of work and results.
7. Find a Firm that Strikes a Balance
You don’t want a firm that’s high on how amazing they are, nor do you want a firm that just licks your feet on what you want.
You need a firm that can listen to your needs while also giving their suggestions and assertive opinions.
This way it is more of a fruitful partnership that has the hands of both sides on deck.
8. Seek Out their Level of Creativity
Asides from the usual and obvious expectations from a PR firm, what else do they bring to the table?
During your initial consultations, how creative do they seem? Are their talks confined to redundant words and promises? Or do they offer alternative fresh ideas?
Of course, this is not to say they are going to dish you new ideas during their meetings with you.
However, you can detect how creative they can get from the strategies they present to you.
Is it the generalized stuff with zero touches of diversity that’s unique to your startup needs or a creative plan geared to your success?
How well connected is the PR firm? Are they in touch with the right people? Can they get your startup to the necessary media outlets?
Ensure they have the contacts, resources, connections with journalists, relevant publications, industry leaders, and PR agencies.
A PR firm without the relevant connections will not deliver and give you a solid footing in the industry.
10. Lookout for the Individual
Yes, you will be hiring a firm, however, you will be working with individuals.
You must know who will take the lead on your project.
Run a background check on their work, past projects, level of the market, and industry knowledge.
Have them be part of the meetings to see how you kick off and if you trust them enough to handle your startup’s PR.
Hiring a PR agency is no easy task but one that includes a lot of deliberations, calculations, and predictions.
However, it is a decision worth the effort with a high ROI for startups if done correctly.
Taking the above suggestions will help you choose the right PR firm for your startup.
This will prevent you from making ill-informed decisions and give you a great headstart from the get-go.
It is important to note that these points don’t guarantee you the certainty of the perfect PR firm; it does however elevate your chances of making a better choice.