The seven crucial questions you need to ask yourself before you hire a PR firm for your start up ?
- Why do I need to hire a PR firm? You want your business to go to the next level, correct? The only way to do so is to build credibility. And as business owners you would want to do get maximum bang for your buck. The only way to do so is to ensure you reach out to maximum number of people via credible means. This is where the PR professional enters into your marketing plan. The professional expert will guide you with it and ensure you gain maximum relevant impact via mass media.
- When do I need to hire a PR firm? When you can handle the widespread visibility. A good PR professional will focus efforts to reach out to your target audience via relevant media. You need to be prepared to handle the extra visibility and potential business leads that come in from the widespread exposure. The worst scenario is when a startup cannot handle the business the visibility generates. That does more harm than good. Just ensure you can handle the business you receive. So get your back end ready before you start PR.
- How do I hire a PR firm? Ask your start up mentors and friends in the same circuit. Everyone will have a few references they can share with you. Ask them to come and meet you and present their credentials. Pick 4 or 5 agencies to come in for the same. Select 2 who you think have the right credentials – knowledge and bandwidth to submit the final proposal. After you have made the selection intimate both about the result. Also, as fair practice it is much appreciated when you refrain from swiping one idea from a particular agency presentation to the other. Trust me, your agency will respect you more and believe in your credibility when you walk the talk.
- Can’t I do it myself? Sure! As a startup you tend to get used to wearing many hats…and there are a few things you can do on your own in the start. But you must have heard of the old saying “Jack of all… Master of None!” . It’s true. It is mentally and physically impossible for you to divide or allocate your time to each area of your business. If you were to become the PR expert on your business then you need to change your business! Open a PR firm instead. Choose one area of your business and concentrate on it – Be it innovation, activation or new business development. You need to concentrate on your core offering. Leave the rest to the experts.
- What is the budget I should allocate? When you start with PR remember it is going to be the most powerful and important tool in your marketing plan. How much of importance do you want to give it? A good allotment is 25-35% of the marketing budget.
- PR? Boutique, Mid – Size, National, International or Freelancer? Budget! Budget! Budget! It all boils down to the numbers. It’s a business. For you and the agency. You cannot expect the sun and the moon at the price of … well… rocks ! Manage your expectations according to the budget you have. If the agency decides to go over and beyond their call of duty make it a point to appreciate and say a word of ‘thanks’.
- When will I see results? Here is my counter question…when did you bag your first big order? It took you atleast two or three meetings and weeks of preparation before you bagged the first order. The PR industry works in a similar fashion. Typically an engagement would start with 3-4 weeks of intensive preparation and pitching before which you will see the results rolling in. The PR experts have the resources to make things happen much faster if they understand your business and buy in to the service or product your start up is about.