One of the priorities of startups is to get the word out about your product or service. As a relatively new entrant to the market, they lack the same brand visibility and top-of-mind recall as most established brands tend to have.
Therefore, when it comes to cost-effective promotion, earned media is a given – PR generates a 10 to 50 times conversion rate compared to advertising. Having a solid PR strategy, along with picking the best PR firm for your startup, can give your company the right amount of exposure needed to grow. But, the question remains, how to choose a PR agency that fits your business?
PR agencies offer a variety of services from editorial coverage to press release distribution and copywriting. With earned media coverage, you get more authenticity than branded content, albeit with a little less control over your message.
For fresh faces in the industry, executing your startup’s PR plan could be daunting or time-consuming, so engaging outside help might be the easiest and most effective way to ensure that your firm gets the right exposure. But with a multitude of PR firms available in the market, finding someone that is truly the perfect match for your business on the first try is hard, but not impossible.
Here are 5 crucial steps to learning how to choose a PR agency for your business:
- Set your goals and objectives
- Decide on your budget
- Research and ask around
- Talk to different firms
- Select the right PR firm and embark on your PR journey
1. Set your goals and objectives
Before diving into the search for agencies, think about what you would like to achieve by working with a PR agency. Consider how a PR company can best help your company and draft a rough idea of what specific services you’d like to engage from the firm. Ask yourself important questions.
This way, you can narrow down your search by finding and shortlisting agencies that can best help you meet your objectives. Whether your first goal is to hold a social media campaign or get your name on niche newspapers, it is important to be clear and realistic about communicating these goals to PR agencies.
2. Decide on your budget
For startups, you do not want to be lured into a spending trap with exorbitant fees from big agencies that leaves a significant dent in your capital. In the world of PR, bigger doesn’t always mean better. You may find smaller firms more interpersonal and specialised, which may be more effective in getting your brand out there while offering better value.
While planning your budget, keep in mind your objectives for hiring a PR agency and align your budget with your goals. Consider some of the strategies you’d want to take on – whether it be a creating social media campaign or disseminating press releases. It’s also important you do the relevant research and figure out how much you should be paying for the services to avoid overpaying.
One thing to note is that – just because an agency promises extensive media coverage to back up higher fees, this might not translate to an increase in revenue. One of the benefits of PR is a high conversion rate, if you’re not getting it, you’re not doing it right.
Another thing to remember is to be reasonable. Just because you set a budget that’s very low does not mean you will find the right agency.
3. Research and ask around when deciding on how to choose a PR agency
Now that you’ve made your goals and budget clear, we’re figuring out how to choose a PR agency.
A good place to start would be the people around you. Friends from the same industry or niche are reliable sources and can help you find an agency that specialises in clients from your field.
So get on LinkedIn or even the common entrepreneur WhatsApp groups to ask for recommendations and suggestions. You can also look at social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram for testimonials and case studies to get a good gauge of their specialities and tactics that they use to do PR.
When researching, keep a look out for any strategic announcements and reviews. You want to work with a cost-effective yet reputable company.
4. Talk to different firms
Meeting with different PR firms is arguably one of the most important steps of the process.
PR is a broad subject that consists of so many aspects, from social media to media coverage and sometimes even content marketing. One firm might promise you top-tier media coverage, while another assures you of consistent, smaller reach. Some firms might not want to assist in social media, reactions, and events that run into their overtime.
It is crucial to understand that different agencies work differently and to find one that best fits your schedule and strategy by attending meetings with them.
Before attending these meetings, make a mental note of questions you’d like to ask each agency. You’ll want to clarify their pricing strategy, area of expertise, and approach to PR. Here’s a detailed list of questions you can ask when deciding on how to choose a PR agency.
Transparency is a must from start to end. Keep notes, messages, emails, and contracts close by so you do not end up with something you did not expect. The hard truth is that, in every industry, sometimes agencies might take advantage of inexperienced entrepreneurs in the market to underdeliver what they promised, so this is absolutely necessary.
Failing to ask the tough questions when dealing could lead to situations where the PR firm ends up hiding a less-than-desired KPI or just goes with any suggestions the client has without feeling the need to refine those ideas.
We explore why the practice of PR is both Art and Science.
5. Select the right PR firm and embark on your PR journey
A lot of PR agencies will have a similar sales pitch that promises you the world and a guarantee they will be by your side 24/7. It is just the nature of PR people to communicate well.
As a client, learn to decipher between empty promises and a genuine interest in your business. A successful partnership always requires both parties to be involved. Jumping into a deal with people who do not care for or believe in your product can run you the risk of being neglected or overlooked. Before settling into anything, make sure that you are listened to. During meetings, take notes. Are they as excited about your goals as you are? Or is it one big hard sell? As with any project, passion is what it takes to do a great job.
A good PR agency has to be well-connected. Engaging the help of a PR firm means that you are looking to them for the resources and expertise that you, as a fresh face in the industry, may lack.
A proper balance between connections and quality can create a sustainable PR campaign for your brand. When you’re communicating your expectations and sharing your ideas with them, listen to their responses. An agency that challenges your ideas and adopts a more realistic approach is often better than one which agrees with every single idea. You want a PR partner that has an objective view and strong news judgment while being able to think out of the box for creative ideas.
How to choose a pr agency for your business
Finding the best PR agency as a startup could give you a good headstart in the market that you are in. Expert outside help could be one of the ways that bring value and attention to your brand. It is up to you to discern and pick the perfect match to propel your startup to success. We hope that this helps in your journey on how to choose a PR agency that suits the specific needs of your business.
If you want to learn more about public relations for startups, drop us a line at [email protected].