Public Relations isn’t one-size fits all solution. You need to find the right fit and the right personality for your company. A great PR firm for one company might be a nightmare for another. Just, frankly, as a company or its staff might be a nightmare client for the PR firm.

Here are eight tips to help you find the right PR partner for your company.

Tip #1: Define what you consider success before you start talking to a PR firm. If you don’t know what you want to achieve, how can you identify which firm can succeed in accomplishing your goal? By defining your goal in advance, you set yourself (and your new partner) up for success.

Tip #2: Decide if your PR need is long-term or short-term. Are you looking to achieve a long-term goal of increased overall awareness of your company, or are you only looking for temporary help on a specific project? Some firms are better at short-term projects while others excel at creating and implementing long-term strategies.

Tip #3: What size PR firm is right for you? There are some excellent big firms out there, just as there are some talented small firms. It comes down to what’s important to you. Would you rather be the big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a lake? A large firm might have a monthly minimum of $10,000 or $15,000 a month, yet you’d still be viewed as one of their smaller clients. Compare that to a smaller firm where you’d be consider one of the larger clients at even half the larger firm’s retainer amount. Another consideration of who you’ll be working with on a daily basis. At a small firm, you’re likely to be working with the company’s top talent but a large firm may assign your small account to less experienced staff.

Tip #4: Find the right chemistry. Not only do you need to trust your PR firm for their professional recommendations, but you need to personally like the people you’ll be working with. Sometimes the strategy is right, but the personalities aren’t. If that’s the case, save everyone the headache and look elsewhere. The key here is to spend as much time vetting the interaction with your prospective PR teams as you do their portfolio and services.

Tip #5: Make sure you’re excited to get started. Did the PR firm capture your imagination and are you excited to get started? If so, that’s a great sign you’ve identified the right firm.

Tip #6: Have realistic expectations. If you expect every story pitched to get media attention or you expect to be on the front page or if you think that you’re going to become a regular on the Today Show, then you’re destined for disappointment. If you’re not sure what is realistic, ask. A good public relations partner will help you understand what to expect.

Tip #7: How will you measure success? Make sure both the company and the firm are judging success the same way. Nothing derails a partnership quicker than disagreeing on how successful a PR campaign is going.

Tip #8: Who will be your point-person? Decide your company’s primary contact for the public relations firm early and invite them be part of the hiring process. Your point person must be someone who is engaged in the process. By having them involved in the beginning, you make sure they have a voice in the selection process and the strategy, which creates a great foundation for your new partnership.

Finally, It’s also worth noting that a good PR firm follows the same process we’ve just outlined when meeting with prospective clients. If a client isn’t the right fit for our strengths and if we’re concerned we won’t meet or exceed the client’s expectations, we’re upfront about it and turn down the opportunity.

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