Startups are often nervous about retaining a public relations firm; it can be costly, and they may not understand what exactly a PR team can do for them.
However, PR should be viewed as an investment in the company.
But like any investment, hiring a PR firm shouldn’t be done lightly. Here are eight questions to ask before hiring a public relations firm:
1. What experience do you have in our industry?
Before anything else, companies should find out if the public relations firm has experience in their industry. It’s not necessarily a problem if they
don’t, but it does mean there will be a learning curve. It may be good to follow up by asking how the firm plans to learn about the industry to make up for
their lack of experience.
Related: Generate Great PR on a Shoestring Budget With These 5 Tips
If they do have experience in the industry, ask about what companies they have worked with before and what kind of work they have done. Having examples to
go off of can give an organization an idea of what to expect from the firm.
2. Where can we find examples of your work?
Are there social media pages they’ve created for companies or campaigns that have seen success? Seeing examples of a PR firm’s work can help an
organization determine if it and the firm are a good fit for each other.
3. What kind of commitment do you need from us?
Companies need to know if they’re locked into contracts for a certain length of time, or if they renew on a month-to-month basis. Again, every organization
will need something different.
4. What kind of a timeline should we expect?
Before hiring a PR firm, have a rough idea of what materials they will require and, ideally, when they might want them by. The PR team will help establish
timelines as well, but it’s good to start communication about this early.
Related: 8 Ways PR Helps Sales (and 1 Way It Doesn't)
5. How much do we need to spend to achieve our goals?
Finding out what the PR firm charges is crucial to make sure you and the firm are a good fit financially.
6. How often will we hear from you?
Will the firm touch base with you once a week? Every few days? Knowing how often they will communicate is important, especially if there are specific goals
or projects the company wants to focus on and monitor.
7. How involved will we be as the client?
This is something companies will need to think about first: How involved do they want to be? Do they want the PR firm to have full control, or do they want
to generate ideas and give direction? It may be that both the firm and the organization have different expectations for how involved the organization
should be. Either way, this is a good thing to establish before making any decisions.
8. How do you measure results?
At the end of the day, results are what matter, because that’s what the organization is paying for. It’s important to know how a PR firm will measure
results and define success.
What are other questions businesses should ask before hiring a public relations firm?
Related: Connect These 6 People on Your Team With Your PR Firm
Zach Cutler is an entrepreneur, angel investor, and CEO of Cutler PR. A version of this article originally
appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Copyright © 2014 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.