Formula PR is Dead
When I started in PR many, many years ago there was barely an Internet, in fact we didn't even have computers in our office for every employee. We created and implemented multi-million dollar PR campaigns based on an almost 40-year old formula. Sure it's morphed some, but most corporate PR agencies continue using it, and sadly, many who come out of those firms to start their own continue to perpetuate the formulaic approach to PR.
With that said, there are many who have more than embraced new media, they actually (gasp) customize a campaign for each of their clients.
As an example, I recently met with a potential new client who said that they had talked to a large number of PR people/firms and none of them developed the interesting, custom approach that we did. While it's good for us, I am worrisome about those in my profession and the future of it.
Those of us who "get it" understand that this formula PR approach doesn't apply to all businesses. Sure there is a the standard media kit and pitching, but today PR is going far beyond just that. Small businesses and startups, much like my clients, are looking for more than just a PR expert, they're looking for a marketing consulting partner. Someone who can look at the whole picture and give them direction and work within their budgets.
If you feel your PR firm is simply giving you the same 'ol, same 'ol with promises of what they can accomplish for you, it's time to move on. Find someone who is truly innovative and integrated to help you best navigate the new world marketing. They need to be more than a PR expert, they need to share your vision for your business; be a team player; your marketing consul; a partner in your success.
Every business is different and requires a personalized look at marketing and creation of a campaign that supports your other efforts. This is exactly how the corporate PR and ad agencies did it in the 1980s and 1990s. They understood the value of integrated campaigns in an expanding media world. Unfortunately, they didn't realize how much it would expand, so while they're catching up you can easily find a smaller, incredibly innovative PR firm to help lead the charge.
One word of advice: Don't get sold on the shiny, flashy campaign. Make sure you find the one that makes the absolute most sense for your business and budget. Something that will truly set you apart from the rest.