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5 Tips to Choosing a Public Relations Firm

Apr 2, 2008
If you are one of the thousands of businesses looking to gain national media attention for your company, products or services then you are probably facing the difficult decision of finding the right PR firm. What can make this decision difficult is that there are so many different kinds of PR firms out there. Some are local, some national. Some retainer based, some project based. So how do you know which PR firm will be the best fit for your objectives? Here are 5 tips on how to choose the RIGHT PR firm to get your message the media attention that you desire

1. Find a firm that specializes in your industry. "For example,if you have a technical B2B business then you should find a national PR firm that specializes in B2B. If the PR firm regularly works with companies that are in your industry, they will be familiar with how to write and pitch your message to the media." Also, they should be able to get started right away. "If you choose a national PR firm who is unfamiliar with your industry, be prepared for them to spend some time researching your industry in order to get a full handle on your topic." And guess who will be paying for the PR firm's research time: you! "Most firms charge a costly monthly retainer, so the longer it takes for them to get started the more money that will be coming out of your bank account. Just to give you an idea the minimum is around $3,000 per month, the industry average is approximately $5,000 per month and the large PR firms can charge anywhere from $20,000-30,000 per month."

2. Choose a firm that specializes in your medium of choice. If you are ready to hire a PR firm, then chances are that you have given a bit of thought as to what medium you want to use. "By the time you start looking for a PR firm you will probably have a good idea if you want to use talk radio, television, newspapers or magazines to get exposure for your topic. It is useful to know that not all PR firms work with all types of media." "A whopping 95% of firms specialize exclusively in print." So if you are interested in doing radio or television you need to find a firm that specializes in these mediums. "The best way to find out is to ask the PR firm what media that they specialize in...simple as that!"

3. Request sample campaigns. "Before choosing a PR firm, request to see some sample PR campaigns that the firm executed for their clients." "This way you can see the quantity and the quality of the media obtained for their clients." When you are given a campaign it is important to know what the duration of the campaign was. "For example, if they show you a PR campaign that has one huge newspaper placement (such as USA Today or The New York Times) and the duration of the campaign was 2 years, think twice about working with them. "If it took 2 years to get one major media placement, based on the minimum retainer level, you would have paid a massive $72,000 for that one newspaper hit." Sample PR campaigns are a great indicator of the effectiveness, especially the cost effectiveness, of a PR firm's work.

4. Find a pay-for-performance firm! The costly monthly retainer can really hit your budget where it hurts, so it is good to know that there are other options out there. "There are a handful of PR firms out there that get paid based on their performance or per project. So instead of paying a monthly fee, you will only pay for the results that the PR firm obtains for you." By choosing a pay-for-performance firm you are truly making your PR firm put their money where their mouth is!

5. Speak to the PR firm's clients. When you are choosing a national PR firm it is very important to ask to speak to some of their clients, past or present. When you get them on the phone, ask the PR firm's clients what sort of media exposure they received and how long it took for the PR firm to obtain it for them. "Great questions to ask are; How well did the PR firm's staff interact with them? Did they seem interested in the campaign? How creative were the pitches and press releases? These answers will give you valuable insight as to how the PR firm will handle your campaign."

Well there you go! The first five tips on how to choose the right PR firm for you!
About the Author
Marsha Friedman has been a leading authority on publicity for authors for nearly two decades as CEO of Event Management Services, Inc (EMSI). If you would like to receive her free Ebook "How to Be a Great Talk Radio Guest" visit http://www.emsincorporated.com.
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