The ultimate guide to hiring a PR agency in 2021

Vanessa Carlton said it best: your company is making its way downtown, is around the corner, and you are bound to succeed. Do you see what i did there? Anyway, your company is on the way. But how do you communicate that to your stakeholders and the public?

Between writing blogs, creating copies of your ads, and setting up an email workflow, it’s hard to buy time for brand awareness and media management. A PR agency can help here.

According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), “Public relations is a strategic communication process that creates mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their public.” In today’s world, PR and marketing overlap and intertwine, making collaboration necessary.

You may have questions about how your marketing team and a PR agency can work together: “What will a PR firm do?” or “What services does a PR agency offer?”

Here’s everything you need to know about hiring a PR agency.

What does a PR company do?

A PR firm takes care of your company’s reputation through its own, earned and paid communications. As a rule, PR companies take care of news to the press. The main goals of a PR firm are brand awareness and reputation management.

While the tasks of public relations and marketing can overlap, both perform different functions. Allie Decker, a writer on the HubSpot team, wrote about public relations and marketing on this blog. She says, “The main goal of PR is to build your brand’s reputation. On the other hand, the main goal of marketing is to increase sales.”

PR and marketing can work together by aligning their goals. For example, people can become aware of your brand through PR tactics like organic social media presence and then convert those into sales from your marketing tactics like Facebook ads. When PR and marketing work together on strategic news, you build your reputation and increase sales.

PR services

  1. Reputation management
  2. Crisis management
  3. Media work
  4. Social media
  5. Write speeches
  6. Press releases
  7. Event planning
  8. Range
  9. Market research
  10. Media training
  11. Internal copywriting

1. Reputation Management

Reputation management is one of the main services that PR companies offer. Tactics may include email newsletters, messaging on site copies or blog content, managing social media, replying to reviews, and contacting followers.

For example, Taco Bell uses social media to build its reputation. In the example below, Taco Bell replies to a customer on Twitter with an authentic, engaging tweet that relates the brand and builds its reputation.

Taco Bell maintains a brand on Twitter.

Image source

2. Crisis Management

According to PwC, 69% of executives have experienced at least one corporate crisis in the past five years – an average of three crises. Your company will most likely face at least one crisis during your tenure. Because of this, a public relations firm might work out a crisis communication plan so that you are prepared in due course.

For example, Susan G. Komen for the Healing, a leading breast cancer charity, faced the consequences of not having a crisis communication plan in 2012. After seven years of funding, they stopped funding Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screening. When the announcement of Planned Parenthood was made, the story went viral on social media and attacked from all sides. Komen waited a while to respond, posted a video showing no responsibility, and then reversed the decision.

According to the PRSA, there are many lessons to be learned from Komen’s mistakes, including “Don’t position yourself as a victim. It won’t work.”

3. Media work

One way to build your reputation and get your name out there is through the media. Public relations firms can manage the relationship between the media and your company. Tactics include writing pitches to journalists and influencers to get mentions on industry news and to get more media coverage.

For example, if you own a sustainable beauty company, a public relations firm might invite you for an interview about sustainable beauty products on the Organic Bunny blog.

4. Social media

Social media is an important factor in reputation management and one of the most important ways to communicate with your audience. Hence, maintaining your social media accounts can become a PR tactic. Since you own your social media accounts, there is an easy way to build your brand. Additionally, your social media strategy could include interacting with influencers in your niche.

In the example below, Poo-Pourri uses his own social media account to build his reputation and promote a well-deserved media opportunity. Also, notice how the founder is active in the community, receiving media coverage, and building her company’s brand.

Poo-Pourri uses social media to build the brand's reputation.

Image source

5. Write speeches

Speech writing is a useful public relations tactic to use when your company is hosting press conferences and events, or your employees are speaking at industry events. All speeches made on behalf of your company should represent your brand as a whole. If someone in your company needs to give a speech, you can hire a PR agency to handle strategic messaging.

In the example below, Apple CEO Tim Cook and other members of his team make multiple speeches about new products and updates during Apple’s annual innovation event. Apple may or may not have worked with a public relations firm, but this is a great example of an event where you might talk to a public relations firm about strategic and branding messages.

6. Press releases

Your company may need to write a press release to announce new products, product launches, campaigns, or movements. This tactic goes hand in hand with media work. For example, if you work for a shoe company and want to start a move to #walkmore on Twitter, a PR company can write a press release to announce the campaign and hopefully get media coverage.

7. Event planning

Event planning can be a marketing and PR tactic to promote your brand, product, or service. If your company is hosting an event to boost your brand’s reputation, consider partnering with a public relations agency. A PR agency can help you communicate with your stakeholders and the public, get media coverage, and plan your event.

For example, INBOUND, an annual experience event for marketers, is an event that highlights the INBOUND brand. In this type of event, INBOUND offers added value for the public while strengthening the brand’s reputation. While this event is planned internally by INBOUND, it is a good example of the type of event a PR agency could help plan.

8. Range

Do you want to make sure your business is active in your niche community, including trade shows and events? A PR agency can help. Public relations firms use reach as a tactic to build brand reputation and increase brand awareness. For example, if you work in a fish shop, your PR firm can contact Global Pet Expo for a booth at the event. Then they can promote your engagement through social media, a press release, and media interviews.

9. Market research

The most important element in communicating and building relationships with your public is understanding. Therefore, a public relations firm would likely use market research as a tactic. You can use surveys, feedback forms, or focus groups to learn more about your target audience. For example, if you own a protein company, a public relations firm might send out surveys to see who is buying your protein, what flavors they want, and what value they have in a protein company.

10. Media training

Many companies and brands in the public are trained in the media. Media training is a tactic used by public relations companies to create consistent, strategic messages for the brands they work with. If your company or brand has multiple people speaking publicly, they should all be on the same page for messaging. When there is only one person who will be the face of your brand, it is important to anticipate frequently asked reporter questions and prepare ready-made answers.

In the example below, the Kardashians are attending media training to practice answers to the most controversial questions reporters ask them. As a brand, the Kardashians have a lot of moving parts, and the family had never spoken about or practiced the news they would use when talking to the media.

11. Internal copywriting

Writing an internal copy is a public relations tactic that PR agencies use to communicate with employees. Your employees are your company’s stakeholders and public, so a PR firm can manage this relationship. You may need to communicate with your employees to discuss key changes, improve morale, or celebrate successes.

Our tip from HubSpot is to have a primary communication channel where communication is stored and distributed. HubSpot, for example, has an internal wiki (see image below) in which our employees from seven countries can communicate.

HubSpot uses the internal hub to communicate with employees.Image source

Types of public relations company

  1. General strategic communication
  2. Press communication
  3. Crisis management
  4. Internal communication
  5. Community management
  6. Non-profit public relations
  7. Public Relations Public Relations

The different types of PR firms vary depending on the services they offer and the public they serve. There are general and specialized PR agencies.

1. General strategic communication

A general PR firm handles all aspects of your PR strategy. You are responsible for building your reputation and brand awareness through many of the tactics outlined above, including social media, media relations, internal communications, and more. A general communications PR firm is a good fit for you if you need help with various PR tactics.

2. Press Communication

A PR agency that specializes in press communication will focus on media work, pitch writing, media coverage and interviews with journalists or influencers. If all you need to do is work with a PR agency to improve your media coverage, a specialist firm may be considered.

3. Crisis Management

A PR agency for crisis management can strategize and implement a crisis communication plan. Typically, these companies are used temporarily to design or implement a plan when your business is in a crisis.

4. Internal communication

Internal communications PR firms specialize in passing information on to your employees. Whether via a monthly newsletter or an internal hub, they make communication between employees easier.

5. Community administration

A community management PR firm focuses on managing customer relationships. They take care of the communication between you and your community in places like Facebook groups and social media.

6. Community public relations

A nonprofit public relations firm specializes in working with specific organizations rather than focusing on specific tactics. Nonprofits usually have different rules and regulations for communicating with the public, which is why many companies specialize in nonprofits. A not-for-profit public relations firm will work with organizations in industries such as health, medicine, or charity.

7. Public Relations Public Relations

Much like a non-profit corporation, a public affairs PR firm specializes in working specifically with government officials as a communication tool. For example, if your company wants to sponsor a political candidate, or a government official wants to be a spokesperson for your company, a public affairs PR firm can manage that relationship.

How to hire a PR firm / agency

  1. Set your goals
  2. Create a budget
  3. Research PR Firms
  4. Write a list of questions
  5. Have meetings
  6. Set expectations
  7. On board your PR company

1. Set your goals

After you’ve decided on a PR agency, your next question might be, “How do I even start?”

First, think about your goals. Answer questions like “What do I want to achieve with a PR agency?” and “How can a PR agency help my company?” When working with a public relations firm, you will most likely be designing SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

Once you have an idea of ​​your goals, consider what type of PR firm can help you achieve those goals (see Types of PR Firms above). For example, if your company was going through a social media crisis like Komen (above), you may want to work with a crisis management company. However, if you work for a nonprofit charity foundation like the Red Cross, you may be working with a nonprofit public relations agency.

2. Create a budget

Make a budget before figuring out which PR agency to work with. Think about how much you are willing to spend on public relations. You should be able to ask questions like “Is this coming from our marketing budget?” To answer. or “What percentage of our budget can we contribute to PR?”

Megan Conley, video editor / animator at HubSpot, writes about creating a budget on this blog. To create a budget, she says:

  • Align your goals with your budget
  • Look at hidden costs
  • Remember your priorities (remember these SMART goals)

Download the PR Budget Template (included in the 8 Budget Templates to Manage Your Marketing Spend) to help you prioritize your PR line items.

You can also check out the average prices for a PR agency for 2021 below.

3. Research PR companies

With your goals and budget, start finding the right PR agency to work with. Gather information about their reputation, ratings, costs, social media presence, testimonials, customers, etc.

Aja Frost, a senior SEO strategist and former writer for the sales blog at HubSpot, writes about creative strategies for prospectus research on this blog. The same strategies can be applied to a PR agency’s research.

Frost suggests:

  • Check out their company’s jobs page: This will give you an idea of ​​their current goals and the tactics they are focusing on. For example, are you developing a social media team or are you looking for an expert in crisis management?
  • Look for strategic announcements: Looking for the announcements can help you learn about your own brand’s initiatives, achievements, new strategies, and reputation. It is important to consider how they deal with their own PR.
  • Read the letter to shareholders: This will give you an idea of ​​their financial strength, unique value proposition, and accomplishments. You want to find a reputable PR agency to work with.
  • Go to Glassdoor: Glassdoor is a great place to find out more about employee reviews, company culture, and goals. This gives a good idea of ​​their reputation.

4. Write down a list of questions you want to ask

After extensive research, create a selection list with various PR agencies. Before contacting an agency, write down a list of questions.

You want to learn about:

  • price
  • Experience / expertise
  • Past clients
  • Previous achievements
  • Reviews / testimonials

Below are examples of questions to ask a PR agency.

5. Have meetings

Armed with your questions, your next step is to hold meetings with various PR agencies. Go through your list of questions and gather the information you need to make a decision. At these meetings, our tip is to be careful who you are chemistry with. It’s always easier to work with people who are adaptable and can have an intelligent conversation about your strategies. After your meetings, compare the suggestions you get, from price to strategy.

6. Set expectations

Once you’ve decided on a public relations firm to work with, make sure you’ve clearly defined your goals. Establish a clear line of communication while defining your expectations. Talk to your PR agency about your SMART goals and determine how to measure success.

7. On board your PR company

The final step in hiring a PR agency is to go through the onboarding process with them. Find out who your main contact is and discuss your communication goals. Ask questions like, “How often are we going to touch the base?” or “How will we follow the results of our collaboration?”

Questions to a PR company, agency or representative

1. “Do you specialize in a particular industry?”

There are several types of public relations firm (see examples above) that you may work with. Before you hire a PR agency, you should find out whether they specialize in a certain industry or have only worked with certain companies. This will give you an idea of ​​how and if they can help your business.

2. “How do you get us media coverage?”

It is important to find out what tactics the agency uses to get media coverage. Also, make sure they mention their media list when answering this question. Most public relations agencies have established media lists and relationships with people in the industry. Also, check to see if they have any new strategies or tactics that you have never heard of before, such as: B. Influencer Marketing or Guerrilla Marketing.

3. “How do you measure success?”

An important quality of any marketing or PR agency is to be able to track the ROI. Every agency should have a system for tracking the results and analysis of their campaigns. See also what success looks like for them. Ask questions like “How did you track past client success?”

4. “How do you plan to work with our marketing team?”

When hiring a PR agency, consider how they will work with your marketing team. The two go hand in hand, especially because some tactics may overlap. Ask questions like “How do you bill our marketing team when planning a campaign?” or “How do you communicate to our marketing team what your agency is responsible for?

5. “What are the first few months like?”

Find out how to start. Do you focus on market research in the first few months? How long would that take? Finding out how they start with their customers and what their strategy would be for your business is important.

6. “What is your pricing structure like?”

Of course, one of the most important things you want to inquire about is the budget. Learn more about their pricing structure. Ask questions like “price per project, per hour, or a withdrawal fee?” and “How often do you charge?” Financing your PR agency is a top priority.

7. “Can I see what work you have done for companies in my industry?”

Again, you want to see that they have been successful with other companies or brands in your industry. This tells you that they may have a media list that they can get in touch with right away. You will also learn that because they have done it before, they can be successful for you.

8. “Can I contact previous customers?”

If you know a PR agency has been successful with other brands, ask for references. Ask previous customers questions like “What [PR agency] Do you enjoy working with them? “and” How did they measure success for you? “

9. “Do your employees also have experience in marketing and sales?”

This is an important question as your PR agency should understand how marketing, sales, and PR work together to increase sales. When people have marketing and sales experience, they understand the context in which PR fits into your strategy.

10. “Who would I work with?”

Ask about their systems. The PR agency you are working with should have a communication plan in place. Find out what your team structure looks like. Do you have a contact person like an account manager? Or do you work with several people in a team, depending on the project?

11. “How can your company grow with us?”

As your business grows, you want a PR agency that understands your needs from startup to scale. Ask if they have worked with brands of all sizes and see if they have worked with anyone from startup to company.

What does PR cost? Average 2021 prices

According to the Holmes report, PR budgets and agency spending have increased. The number of CMOs and CCOs managing budgets in excess of $ 100 million made up 31% of the budget. For companies with a budget between $ 75 million and $ 100 million, however, the budgets dropped to 6%. For those managing a budget between $ 50 million and $ 75 million, PR made up 17% of their budget.

Overall, the amount you pay for PR depends on the services you need, as well as location. It’s also important to keep in mind that PR agencies offer many different pricing structures. Agencies can charge fees on an hourly, retention or project basis.

Ellie Flanagan, Senior Corporate Communications Manager at HubSpot, says, “The cost of hiring a PR agency can vary based on the size of the company and the type of service you’re looking for. Most agencies charge an hourly guardian for a certain amount of work each month Guaranteed. This cost can range from $ 100 to $ 500 per hour per person on the team, depending on the seniority of each team member. You can work with the agency to determine how much work is required and how experienced the team needs to be. “

During my research for this piece, I found that the current average cost of public relations is between $ 3,000 and $ 5,000 / month. Project-related costs tend to be lower, around $ 1,000.

For example, Paranoid PR charges anywhere from $ 1,450 to $ 5,000 / month for a retention fee depending on the intensity of ongoing support. They also offer per-project pricing and charge anywhere from $ 250 to $ 500 for individual projects or $ 750 to $ 1,250 for mini-campaigns, depending on the complexity of the projects.

PRA, on the other hand, offers public relations pricing based on programs at different levels with different service levels. Their programs range from $ 2,500 / month to $ 7,000 / month.

Pitch PR offers a standard PR program for $ 3,500. No other options were listed on their website.

Bridgeview Marketing offers a variety of PR programs that range from $ 2,500 / month to $ 8,000 / month.

A PR agency can be a great addition to your marketing efforts, driving more visitors to your website, and making reputation management and brand awareness easier.

Would you like to learn more about public relations? Check out our ultimate guide.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2019 and has been updated for completeness.

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