PART I – FINDING THE PERFECT FIT

Questions to Ask When Looking ​for the Right PR Agency

Searching for the right PR agency can be a daunting prospect. From getting your head around exactly what PR is, how it could benefit your business, and what you’ll need to invest, you then need to find the right ‘fit’. This should be a PR pro, or  agency that will deliver services that are perfect for your needs and meet your demands.

Those who are looking for a new PR agency, having had experience working with PR, may have a clearer idea on what they need. Perhaps a larger agency to cope with a growing business, or maybe a more specialist/niche service provider. However, it’s always important to be clear on your needs, especially if the nature, size or outlook of your business has changed.

Just like when you are shopping around for anything, from services, to shoes, it’s great to have some research behind you. Knowing more about the options available, and what will suit you, will save you all important time and help you navigate the big, wide world of PR. Run through the questions below and brainstorm with any member of your team who can add insight and value (sales, marketing, finance). Prepare yourself to meet or interview selected PR teams by outlining your needs and expectations as examined through the questions below.

Why am I looking for PR? What are my expectations?

This will help you to streamline from the outset whether PR, or a certain agency, will be beneficial for your business.

It’s not unheard of for businesses to go out looking for PR and waste everyone’s time by meeting and reviewing proposals without giving a clear indication of why they are contacting them and then rejecting the idea of PR.

That isn’t to say it isn’t worth exploring the possibility of PR even if you aren’t set on the idea, but at least if you know why you have taken that route what you might want from them. It will help them assist you by sharing their advice and explaining clearly what they can offer.

What does my business need?

You may want to research and meet with a few different types of agency to get a feeling of what they can deliver. Write down some definitive requirements so you can shortlist the right PR teams or agencies that offer services that fit your needs.

Are you bold and ready to take risks, or do you want to take a conservative approach? Do you want a PR partner you can keep at arm’s length and simply send over content, or one who will work hard to get a deep understanding of your business and your unique needs?

Is your business likely to have to deal with bad news or negative press? You’ll want to ensure your chosen agency either has a specialism in crisis or issues management, or find one that can advise and prepare you properly for such an incident.

Do you want help running social media? Do you have internal marketing or will marketing support be helpful?

Is there anyone on your team who will supply content or write a press release, or will you need help with copywriting?

Who do I want to reach?

Who do you want to target? Are there any particular sectors? Would you like to get your brand or yourself into national papers and international business press, and/or your trade media?

Talk to your sales or marketing teams about where PR can help them get in front of new customers or engage existing audiences to build your reputation and brand image.

Can I afford PR? What is my budget?

Self explanatory really, but there are a few considerations. There are lots of agencies, all delivering different services at a range of price points, but just with anything you buy…cheapest isn’t always best!

If you sign a contract, this will be an ongoing monthly outgoing so check that you can afford PR and it fits into your yearly expenditure, or allocated marketing budget.

What’s our business messaging?

PR agencies help clarify and refine your messaging to create strong pitches for your chosen audience(s). However, entering into discussions by defining your differentiators, upcoming news and what stories you may want to share with the media will help them create better, more targeted proposals and strategies which will deliver stronger returns.

What kind of people do I work best with?

What is the ethos of your business and what kind of individuals would work well with your team?

Some people may view PR as ‘fluff’ or ‘charm’, but the best and the most effective PR relationships are built on clear, direct and open communication with clients and with journalists.

To be continued…watch out for Part II.

TALKING HEADS

A 5 Step Guide to Meeting ‘the Media’

So, your PR agency has secured that coveted interview. Whether you are featuring in a top publication, appearing on a TV or radio show, or taking the time to meet and talk with a journalist covering your field, you might think the battle has already been won. In reality, the most important part is all now down to you, but your PR team will have the knowledge and ability to help support and prepare you.
 
In some cases featured interviews will be answered over email, which will give you plenty of time to think and review your answers, but for many opportunities you’ll need to be ready to be put on the spot.
 
To help you get your head straight we’ve put together our guide to meeting ‘the media’.
 
Preparation is vital

Even if you aren’t confident, being prepared will make you appear so, and there are several aspects to preparing. Agreeing to questions and topics before the meeting will help you to make notes on your answers, however this can’t always be done and even if questions have been agreed with a journalist it’s likely you’ll be thrown one or two you weren’t expecting.
 
Your PR agency should also help prepare you by doing a mock interview or coming up with all the ‘trick’ questions – creating a list of challenging questions, so you can prepare tactful answers and avoid being caught out.
 
If interviews were agreed as part of your PR strategy, media training should have been undertaken at the outset of your PR agreement. So take this moment to refresh what you learnt in media training sessions. Even if you haven’t undergone training there are simple steps you can take to get ready. Run through messaging with your PR company and ensure you are clear and able to effectively communicate agreed business messaging.
 
Focus

Know what your aim is. Why are you doing this interview? What do you want to achieve? It may help to write down the top three things which you feel are important to convey. Be sure not to push too hard, or to come across as too ‘salesy’.
 
However important your goals are you must bear in mind the purpose of the interview for the journalist or media outlet. What do they want to know or gain from this meeting? Have an understanding of what the journalist wants and give them useful material and insight and they will come back again.
 
Clear your schedule around the appointment as much as possible so you can take the time you need and don’t do anything too stressful or draining before! Remove distractions from your workplace and ensure you’ll have a quiet environment with no interruptions. This goes for in-person meetings as well as phone or video calls.
 
We often speak faster than we think we do. Slow down your speech slightly during the interview, particularly if you are on the radio or TV speaking directly to a larger audience. Listen to what the journalist is asking (it’s easy to get caught up in what you want to say or what you think they are asking rather than what they are really asking). Give yourself time to think before answering and respond thoughtfully to the matters in hand.
 
Presentation

Whether you’re doing the interview via phone or in person, dress smartly, but in a way that feels natural and comfortable for you. This will help you feel put together and confident, even if no one else can see you. If you are able to be seen, the journalist, or your audience, will recognise you have made an effort.
 
Body language and breathing are also really important, especially if you are nervous. Sit up, or stand straight, with proper posture, to convey confidence. This will also help open up your breathing. Be sure to take a few calm, deep breaths before beginning your interview to steady yourself and focus.
 
Professionalism

Know your boundaries. Discuss with your PR team any details you are not happy discussing, such as your personal life or business turnover. If you think these things may come up, make sure to communicate to the media that discussion of these matters are ‘off the table’ upfront. If they do come up, just calmly and politely respond that you aren’t able to discuss those matters. Most journalists will respect this, but if you find yourself being pushed just remain calm, and focus on moving them on to another subject.
 
Personality

Meet in person if possible. Phone or online interviews are often the go-to choice as they are faster and more convenient. However, if you can, and the journalist is interested, take the time to meet in person. Many elements of communication are lost through using technology and it’s often easier to convey your personality, expertise and passion face-to-face.
 
Although tech has taken over most aspects of business and our personal lives, there is still something to be said for having a relationship based on at least one in-person meeting.
 
 
Enjoy!

 

 

WELCOME TO THE PUBLICITE BLOG

WELCOME TO THE PUBLICITE BLOG

Our insightful team has a wealth of experience and knowledge. We are excited to share with you here our advice, opinions, news and ideas. PR can often seem complicated, but at the heart of everything is effective communication. We’re always busy communicating with journalists and clients, but this is our opportunity to start a conversation with you. Check back here to read more from us, our clients, and our partners. Feel free to share your questions with us. We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!