We sometimes get asked what is the difference between a good public relations firm and a bad public relations firm? That is a hard question to answer because there is no real right answer. So much of what we do in public relations is based on connecting with the client. If there is no relationship, then the job is not going to fit. In addition, what one firm does compared to another firm is not quite apples to apples. All firms are different with unique styles. There is no right or wrong way to talk to the media, write copy, create content, etc.
But is there a way to tell the difference between good feelings and good work?
Well, yes. So, grab a pencil, pen, crayon or piece of chalk and take some notes on what to look for in a public relations firm.
- What do their press releases look like? If you see a bunch of exclamation points, run away. That is not a professional writer. Are facts laid out in order? Are contacts easy to find? If you have trouble understanding a press release, don’t go with a firm. Also, look for the style of writing. Does it read like something you would see in the legitimate media? Then go with that firm. If not, stay away.
- How often does the firm update its website and social media? A public relations firm is a media outlet. If they have no news to offer — releases, tweets, blog posts — every day, what do you think they will do for your company down the road? If they can’t generate consistent media for themselves, do you think they can help your company grow?
- Ask who will handle your account. A lot of firms have a great core that brings in clients, but then passes off the work to underpaid underlings who don’t know underground from above ground. While that is not a bad thing, at least, ask who will be responsible for the work at the end of the day. That way you know the top person in the firm still has final say on a project. If not, be careful of what you are paying for because it may not be what you wanted.
- Ask for references. Seriously, if a firm claims they are putting media in various outlets, check. Call other clients and see if they recommend the firm for work. Not every firm is perfect, but they should be able to produce good mentions.
- Know what they can and can’t do. This goes back to the all agencies are unique. They should be up front about what they specialize in such as fundraising, blogging, social media or event planning as well as what they don’t do such as advertising, logistics or juggling pineapples.
Well, that’s it, go forth and find yourself a public relations firm. Of course, we would prefer if it was us.