Checklist: What You Need to Work with a PR Firm for the First Time

So you’re considering hiring a PR firm – congratulations! For many companies, this means you’ve hit a growth spurt. Perhaps you’re about to close a funding round or announce a new product or service line. Maybe you’ve increased your revenue or customer base, freeing up resources to take your business to the next level. Either way, it’s time to hit the ground running!

Not so fast.

Once you’ve made the decision to amplify your PR, social media and email efforts, you’re eager to get started – “like, yesterday.” But when it comes to communications, it’s almost never wise to shoot first and ask questions later.

Before putting out a single press release, you’ll need to arm your communications agency with the tools they’ll need to tell your story to the world.

First things first:

  1. Pick a spokesperson. Every company should have at least one dedicated spokesperson – the individual your PR pro can count on when a member of the media comes calling. This individual should have authority within your company and industry. Charisma and a point-of-view are a plus, but attributes that your agency can work with you to develop. If your agency has more than one spokesperson, it’s important to establish areas of expertise. When these swim lanes are defined early on, there is less confusion about who is the right spokesperson for each opportunity.
  2. Pick a point-person that will work with your agency with on a day-to-day basis. At a small business or startup, team members usually wear many hats and it’s not uncommon for a CEO to be both a spokesperson and a point-person. For larger companies with a multi-tiered leadership team, this is not always the case. It’s a great sign for your business when executives are freed up to delegate tactical work; but it’s important to choose a point-person that has direct (and quick) access to the final decision-maker.
  3. Assess your greatest resource. By that, we mean time. Many companies let their bank account dictate the right time to hire an agency, but you should also be checking your calendar. Do you have the time to dedicate to a lengthy discovery meeting, urgent media requests, and regular status meetings and check-ins? PR firms are not just a vendor, but a partner; we thrive on simplifying your job, but “give and take” is essential to do our jobs thoroughly.
  4. Optimize your website for conversion – We can lead a horse to water, but you have to encourage it drink. Media and social media are excellent traffic drivers, but what happens next is up to you! Audit your website to be sure your copy and hi-res photos are compelling, your links aren’t broken, your call to action is clear, and your website won’t crash if you experience a surge in traffic.
  5. Know what you’re hoping to gain. “Brand awareness” is great, but it’s difficult to measure and even harder to agree on when your mission’s been accomplished. A smart agency will challenge you to think critically about your priorities and will set measurable goals so you know when the job is done.

Before you meet with a potential partner, think carefully about specific goals that PR and social media can help you achieve. Is your company looking to increase conversation in a specific market? Position your startup for more funding? Reach potential new hires? Having an idea of these goals before you meet with an agency will help you recognize which partner is best-suited to help you achieve them.

And there you have it.

When your business takes off, it’s tempting to dive into PR head first, but trust us – a little bit of prep work can help you choose the best partner, shorten the strategy phase, and drive more meaningful results in the long run.

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