When is it time to hire a PR expert?
Here's a question for you: Are you interested in running your business or growing your business?
When you first start your business you more than likely don't have much of a marketing budget in place. But, if you're smart you are beginning to sock some away as you DIY PR, because you know how important marketing is to building a successful business.
Here's the great, thing: It doesn't have to be a lot upfront.
There are many ways to market your business or organization on your own to keep costs low at first, but what happens when your business starts growing, or is ready to launch a new product or service? When you're feeling like Stretch Armstrong, being stretched thinly in every direction, it becomes difficult to do everything you need to do well.
At some point, you are going to be ready for a real PR and marketing campaign to take your business to the next level that you simply won't be able to handle on your own.
This is when it becomes crucial to bring in an expert who can guide you in a long-term strategy PR and marketing ; who has resources to garner more media attention for your business; who can take over marketing your business and, most importantly, can contribute to growth.
An expert knows how to present your company's news to media, and its brand story to the market. You hire them because they:
understand how to create a compelling story
have good relationships with media
understand how media work and what matters most to them
know what stories writers are looking for
understand how to translate your story across other marketing platforms
can advise on where and when is the best place to communicate your company story so it hits your target audience directly
guide you in the right direction that will help you achieve business and marketing objectives
More importantly they can help you develop an integrated PR campaign and assets to amplify the story and keep it visible for a long time online, attracting more people through organic search.
Today, it is becoming more and more difficult to break through the clutter of news and information floating around out there. An expert will create strategies that will help your business rise to the top and receive the recognition it really deserves.
With all that said, the right time to hire a PR pro is when everything is aligned, or soon will be for launch, or growth. Maybe you've had success DIYing marketing and some public relations or media stories, and as a period of growth approaches, you need to outsource and manage the business, rather than run around trying to do it all yourself. Most businesses that do this, fail.
If you've reached a period of delegation for growth in your business, or you are not 100% positive on how to best introduce your company to the market, than it's time to hire a professional or small public relations or marketing communications agency.
With that said, this does require some future planning and budgeting. And, I have a big tip for you to do right now!
Typically, entrepreneurs are so focused on the immediate tasks at hand today, that they fail to look ahead for growth. They lack a plan that they can work to meet their goals.
I always recommend having a few conversations with different professionals and agencies early on to get an idea of cost for various scopes of work - local PR campaign, regional campaign, national campaign (targeted), national and/or international campaign (set the doggies free - no holds barred). This will give you a better understanding of what you need to save to later afford an expert boutique PR agency to really take your business to new heights.
The best part is that when you're ready to hire a professional, you've already talked to some people, maybe many people/agencies, and have a good idea of whom you'd like to hire. This saves so much time, and can prevent poor decision making that is often expensive.
Here's one way to avoid making bad decisions in your business:
Research and start having conversations months before you're in need to hire a public relations or marketing agency, website designer, co-packer, product manufacturer or fulfillment.
When you make a decision at the last minute, you are more likely to make a bad decision because you're desperate. You may be more likely swayed by price, not quality or experience, you may overlook red flags that will, and they will, pop up later.
Thanks to review sites like Expertise and Clutch, which vet agencies before recommending, you can make a short list of potentially strong partners.
Finally, if you're really ready to hire a pro, then be prepared for critique that will only make you better.
A second pair of eyes never hurts, especially since you share the same goal of success!
Meaning the right pro is going to be concerned not just with doing PR, but your overall business. They will want to ensure that their efforts will absolutely lead to growth through awareness, a great story, stellar customer service and delivery, and overall fantastic customer experience.
It is also important that the expert you hire can have necessary time to review your materials, messaging, website, strategies to ensure they're correct and will create an immediate, and positive, reaction from your audience/customers.
Again this is part of planning ahead, and also respect for the partner you bring on to your team. Understanding that they may need many months in advance to pitch magazines and media with 3-6 month lead times. It can take time to:
onboard with your company
conduct a period of Discovery
put together a strong story strategy and messaging
develop a task tracker for the project period
execution of media relations or campaign activation
conduct periodical audits to ensure all of the parts are cohesive and working together
and much more, depending on the size and scope of your project
Any good agency will guide you through their process for success. Sloppy, last minute media pitches are obvious and often fail to attract media attention. Let a professional guide you through the strategy and process for best results.