Being on the front lines of business in 2021, we noted that this was a record year for both growth and demise. We have seen brands lose it all and we have seen others lean into the hype, experiencing massive growth and unparalleled success. Ironically enough, they all had one thing in common, publicity. Some had it, others didn’t. It was obvious to tell who realized that Hiring a PR Agency would be the path forward.
With 2022 upon us, Abram Lincoln’s famous quote, “What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself,” could not be truer. A new opportunity is here for all businesses and brands to take control of their public perception, to mold the way they fit into this new year. But starting this path on your own can be daunting. We are here to clear the air and give you all the tools and tips you need to hire the best PR agency for your brand in 2022.
What do PR agencies actually do?
To begin, let’s establish a common understanding of what PR agencies actually do, what services they offer, and how much it might cost to get those services. From there we will then be able to outline what you need to do to hire the best PR firm for your brand.
As a whole, PR agencies work with both growing and established brands to mold public perception about a particular offering, service, or business. Typically this is done by crafting unique messaging and utilizing connections to pitch that message to the media in hopes that it will be unique enough to be featured.
The more unique and impactful your story, the more likely it will be picked up and published. At Otter, our team of publicists and writers work directly with our brands to find the perfect niche and category for their stories. They then write expertly crafted pitches, and deliver those pitches to only the most impactful and specific publications. This could include magazines, newspapers, radio, TV, podcasts, online publications, and more.
What type of services can you get from a PR agency?
This general outline for the function of PR firms can include a variety of different services that utilize the same sort of tools and staff to carry out different offerings over several different channels. These offerings can include Media Relations, Reputation Management, Crisis Management, Copywriting, Media Training, and even some Digital Marketing services.
The general outline and process described earlier of crafting unique and powerful stories and pitching them to various media sources are known as media relations. Successful media relations campaigns can occur in a multitude of different fashions but hinge wholly on the quality of pitch that is provided to media sources.
Sometimes your publicist will utilize personal connections with publications to get your story out there. Journalists and publications can also use industry-specific platforms to request stories that might be a perfect fit for your brand or niche. Your publicist would monitor these requests closely to provide the right opportunity. Getting your story published in this fashion is known as earned media.
If for any reason, you are experiencing trouble getting your story picked up organically using earned media, there are also opportunities for your story to be published using paid media. Many online publications offer contributor-based or guest-written article spaces that can be purchased for publication. In our world, this is a great resource, but we always want to make sure your publicity is earned if possible.
Finally, you may also have the opportunity to get your story published via owned media platforms. Many firms not only have great relationships but also may have created their own publications in order to fill gaps in the vast media space to better serve their client’s needs. This is the easiest placement of all.
Because PR agencies focus their attention on public perception, it is a natural fit for firms to offer online reputation management services to their clients. Whether your online reviews and reputation are stellar or lackluster, these types of services will help manage online reviews, monitor for and remove negative articles, and create backlinks towards positive assets. Having an experienced team on your side to manage these processes is a major benefit to any business or brand and is highly recommended.
Another service that is widely accepted as common practice among PR agencies is Crisis Management and Communications. An effective team will help you plan and strategize the perfect response to any situation, current or potential, and will have the resources to communicate and intervene with the media when necessary. Another benefit of hiring a PR agency that handles crisis management is its ability to repair and remove unwanted and unsavory press.
Many agencies offer plans for active and potential crisis situations, and it is highly recommended that you plan your crisis response strategy well in advance to limit potential damage and exposure. Check out the plans that Otter has to offer now!
Possibly one of the biggest benefits of working with any PR firm is their access to experienced, professional writers. We all know the struggles of having to write your own content. So if you want it done quickly, efficiently, and effectively, leave it to the pros.
Not every firm offers full copywriting services, but the best will focus on ghostwriting books, articles, contributor pieces, and even blogs. The best part is, most of these writers are extensively trained in best SEO writing practices and once their articles are published, they will keep showing up time and time again in online searches for potential customers and followers.
Interfacing with the media is not easy. While most interviews seem simple and straightforward to the viewer, the truth is that it took a lot of action behind the scenes to make that possible. It is imperative that your brand is well represented in the media and sometimes that responsibility can fall completely on your shoulders.
A great PR agency will provide the right resources and media training for you to be successful in every interview. You will learn how to prepare, predict questions, avoid common traps, and focus on delivering the key messages vital to your brand’s success.
In our experience, we have found that the most effective PR campaigns are accompanied by specific and targeted digital marketing services. These niche services can include website design, search engine optimization, social media outreach, blogging, and email marketing. When used with the appropriate marketing channels, PR campaigns get the extra resources they need to flourish and take hold by making them available to wider audiences.
How much does it all cost?
We tell our clients and colleagues that PR is one of those services in which you truly get what you pay for. Some firms may require a retainer, some may be monthly, and some may be piece-meal. In all, we have heard from clients who have paid thousands and thousands per month, getting no results time and time again from other agencies. So what you truly need to be looking for is set monthly pricing with guaranteed results.
While we can’t always tell you what our competitors are doing in terms of pricing, we know that with Otter PR, you can expect a free consultation and to pay anywhere between $1,400 to $5,000 per month to get a guaranteed one to three placements in top-tier or niche publications each month. Now that is Results-Driven PR!
How do I hire the best PR agency for me?
So, what is the best way to go about hiring a PR agency? Simple, knowledge, and expectation. You will want to do your research and choose a few proven firms that provide clear objectives that align with your budget. Keep in mind, with any good firm, you will end up paying for experience, connections, and resources. And that ALL matters.
Once you have done your research, set up discovery meetings with your top choices and make sure that your goals align by asking the following five questions:
What are your specializations as a firm?
Given all the information provide in this post, you should be able to quickly tell based on their answer whether or not a firm is worth their salt when hiring a pr agency. But most importantly, you will want to work with the firm that best specializes in what you require as a client. If you want to show up online, SEO and Media Relations. If you want to repair your reputation, Reputation Management. If you are in the middle of a PR crisis… well, you get the point.
How will my media coverage be acquired?
If you decide to work with a firm that focuses in on media relations, it is important to know just how they are getting you that coverage. Is it earned, paid, owned, or a combination? Ultimately, this is part of how you will determine the quality of coverage you are getting. Remember, you want as much earned coverage as you can get!
How do you measure success?
If an agency cant tell you what success looks like for YOU and your brand, then there is either a problem with your offering or their service. Knowing how an agency measures success will not only help you see its worth but will also help to set expectations for the future. Make sure to work with an agency that understands your goals and what success looks like for everyone involved.
Who will I be working with?
The answer to this question should be fairly simple. You will want to have a dedicated account representative that works with a team to achieve the goals you outlined in the previous question. While there is value in having a Jack-of-all-trades style approach in terms of consistency, PR is an everyday grind and you will want to make sure that things don’t fall by the wayside if your publicist is down for the count for some reason. In our opinion, the bigger the team, the better the results. Think publicists, writers, account strategists, all working together to achieve your goals.
Do you have Case Studies in my Industry?
A track record of success is an important piece of the PR puzzle. One firm may be better suited for an industry as opposed to another based on their experience. Make sure to choose a firm that has experience in your industry or something close to it.
What is your onboarding process?
Possibly the most important part of hiring a PR agency is making sure they understand you, your business, or your brand. If you are simply going in blind and just relying on their online research as the benchmark for your campaign, you are probably going to struggle. Make sure they have an outlined onboarding process that is centered around your goals and expectations so that everyone is on the same page right from the start. This will help you get the results you are looking for in a much shorter time frame.
Hiring a PR agency is no easy task. It takes time, research, and understanding of the process as a whole to determine if a firm might be the right fit for you, your business, or your brand. But with a little insight and guidance, you should be well on your way to finding the perfect firm to achieve exactly what you want to do.
If you have found this information useful, please subscribe and make sure to schedule a free consultation with one of our PR experts. Chances are that we are the right firm for you.