As a successful business owner, there will come a time when doing everything in-house is no longer the best option. When your business is growing, your time becomes more and more valuable and you’ll want to make sure that you are maximizing it to the best of your ability.
With that, it might be time to ask yourself if it’s time to hire some outside help. Consider the following:
What strategies are working?
First and foremost, sit down and take a look at what strategies are giving your business the biggest ROI. If you’re seeing that press mentions, blog features, speaking engagements, etc. are at the top of the list, then a PR firm would be a great fit for your business.
How are you spending your time?
If the role of public relations is an important one to your business, but you have found that either you don’t have the expertise or that your time would be better spent making sales, enhancing the client experience, or business development, then bringing in a PR consultant to take things up a notch is a great solution.
Hiring a PR agency can be an involved and somewhat intimidating prospect, especially for someone who hasn’t had experience with consulting before. Your first move should be to ask friends and colleagues for advice and referrals. You can be sure that they will be honest about the benefits and challenges of having a PR consultant. If they aren’t able to help, consider using any of the industry associations or groups you belong to (including social media groups) for help with referrals and to put feelers out there.
What should you be looking for in a candidate?
• Their portfolio
A PR company’s press portfolio (of both themselves and their clients) is the first thing you should look at. It will give you a picture of what kinds of media relationships they have and what type of press they are able to get, from print to online to on-air. Be sure you are looking at their most up-to-date list and look back as far as the last six months to a year.
• Their clients
The PR company that you hire should understand what your specialty is, but isn’t currently representing any of your competitors. It can certainly work to your benefit if they have not yet broken into your specialty, as they will likely be excited to break into the market. However, be sure you get a comprehensive proposal outlining what their efforts will be to ensure that you’re all on the same page.
A peek into Meghan Ely's Twitter page
• Their social media
Social media will give you a glimpse into a company’s brand. Consider how they are presenting themselves – do they interact with media? Do they promote their clients press features? If you notice that they are not active, then be sure you ask them why.
For those ready to take the leap and hire an outside PR firm, use these tips and be sure you have reviewed all proposals extensively before saying yes so that you find the right fit.
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.