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Bringing on a PR firm can be a great way to boost your company’s credibility and outreach, but you should ensure that your company is ready to take this step. — Getty Images/sturti

Bringing on a PR firm can be a great way to boost your company’s credibility and outreach, but you want to go about it the right way. Here are seven steps to take before hiring a PR firm.

[Read more: Public Relations vs. Public Affairs: What’s the Difference?]

Make sure you’re ready to hire a PR firm

Before you start interviewing different PR firms, you should ensure that your company is ready to take this step. Some business owners believe they need publicity but rush into this step before they’re ready.

If you cannot clearly define your brand and target audience, you’re not ready to hire a PR agency. If you have defines your brand and target audience,, here are a few signs it’s time to bring on a PR firm:

  • You have the budget for a long-term PR investment.
  • You have the time to make PR a priority.
  • You’re willing to invest the time to build your company’s credibility.

[Read more: What’s the Difference Between PR and Marketing?]

Outline your objectives

Before you start meeting with potential firms, you need to outline your company’s objectives. Think about the problem you’re trying to solve — this will make hiring a PR firm much easier.

Make sure to come up with SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Making sure that your goals has each of these qualities will ensure you can reach them, how to attain them, and you’ll also know when you’ve done so. If you’re too vague about what you’re hoping to accomplish, it’s easy to waste time and money on solutions that don’t work.

[Read more: How to Use the SMART Framework to Set Business Goals]

Know what type of PR firm you want to hire

Next, you need to determine what kind of PR firm is right for your company. The one you hire will largely depend on your company’s objectives.

If you’re looking to build global reach, a large agency may be the right fit. On the other hand, you may be looking for more one-on-one support. In that case, a local boutique agency may be a better choice.

You also want to determine if you’re looking for a general PR firm or one that offers more specialized services. For instance, there are PR agencies that specialize in the following services:

  • Strategic communication.
  • Press communication.
  • Crisis management.
  • Community management.
  • Nonprofit PR.

If you’re looking to build global reach, a large agency may be the right fit. On the other hand, you may be looking for more one-on-one support. In that case, a local boutique agency may be a better choice.

Set a budget

Once you know your goals and the type of firm you’re looking to hire, you need to come up with a budget. Think about how much you can realistically spend and how you’ll fund the expense.

Most PR firms will charge you a monthly retainer for a specific number of hours. Make sure you understand how these hours are used and tracked so you can avoid going over budget. It’s also a good idea to ask for a weekly update on the hours used the previous week.

[Read more: A Complete Business Guide to Public Relations]

Come up with a list of questions

By now, you’ve started researching different PR firms and should have a list of several that interest you. Asking the following questions can help you determine which agency is the best fit for your business:

  • How do you measure success?
  • How will you align your efforts with what our marketing team is doing?
  • Do you have any references from other companies in our industry?
  • Who is the point person I’ll be working with?
  • Decide on a point person

When you hire a PR firm, that agency becomes an extension of your business. You will need a point person who will be responsible for managing the relationship with the agency. Ideally, this person will have experience in a PR-related field.

Set expectations and onboard the firm

Finally, you want to set clear working expectations for the firm you hire. Set clear guidelines for how you’ll communicate and measure success. Once that’s settled, you can onboard the agency.

A good onboarding strategy sets you up for a positive working relationship. It ensures that both companies have the information they need to move forward.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published March 17, 2022