Executing a successful PR campaign usually requires effort from several different people. You have writers, people responsible for media outreach, photographers, and a host of others involved in executing all the various tasks required to carry out your PR efforts. With so many hands on deck, it’s often necessary or beneficial to hire freelancers to help on your projects.
There are many benefits to hiring freelancers, but there are also challenges and risks that come with taking the plunge. The freelancer is untethered from your work environment, which means you don’t have the ability to monitor them as closely as you might like. Freelancers have other clients and projects to manage, so your project might not necessarily be their top priority.
On top of that, you just never know what you’re going to get each time you hire a new freelancer. One freelancer might provide great work at a quick turnaround; another might do awful work, miss deadlines, and be slow to respond whenever you email or call them.
So what can you do to help ensure you have successful experiences working with freelancers on your PR projects? Try these:
Always review their work and referrals before hiring.
Freelancers need projects to keep the money coming in so they can pay the bills and keep food in the fridge. So, it’s understandable that a freelancer will claim he or she is great and the perfect fit for your project, but you can’t take their word for it. You must see relevant samples of their work before agreeing to work with them.
Get on the phone.
It’s important to hire freelancers you feel comfortable with and have good chemistry with. It’s hard to gauge this by email. That’s why when you’re in the hiring phase, I recommend talking to the candidate on the phone. You can get a much better sense of who they are and how well you’ll be able to work together by having a real conversation with them.
RELATED: Hear how top companies adapted to the digital PR industry changes at this August event.
Create clear project expectations.
Poor communication spells disaster for any project, and because freelancers probably won’t be working side-by-side with you, it’s incredibly important that you take extra steps to clearly communicate your expectations. The freelancer should have a total understanding of what you want, how you want it, and when you want it. You don’t necessarily need to be a micromanager, but you can’t skimp on the details and expect the project to get done the way you’d like.
Whenever people talk about working with freelancers, they tend to focus on the freelancer’s responsiveness, or lack thereof, to the company that hires them. But it’s also important for the company—that’s you—to be responsive to the freelancer. Whenever the freelancer emails you to ask a question or looking for guidance, you need to be quick to respond with an answer. That’s what will keep your project on target.
Know when to cut your losses.
Unfortunately, some freelancers just suck. You can do your homework and think you’ve hired the right person, but when it comes time to get the job done, they don’t do it right or are just a pain in the butt to work with. Of course, when you have money invested in that person, it’s hard to just let them go and flush that money down the toilet. You’ve got to know when to cut your losses. Sometimes, the freelancer just isn’t the right fit, and the longer you wait to let them go, the worse things will get for your campaign.
Take care of your freelancers.
Freelancers work hard for clients that are good to them. You want to build good relationships with your trusted freelancers, so you can turn to them any time you need help on a project. That means you need to take care of your freelancers. Pay them on time, don’t have unrealistic demands, don’t be the client who is always waiting until the last minute to ask for help, and so on. Take care of them, and they’ll take care of you.
Do you work with PR freelancers? What tips would you add?
A version of this article originally appeared on PR Fuel.