What to Expect From Your Brand New PR Firm

Congratulations, you’ve just hired a PR firm, possibly after months of searching for just the right one.  Now what?  What can you reasonably expect from your firm in the first 90 days?
As with any successful marketing program, planning will play a large role in establishing the efficacy of your PR efforts. Given that, and assuming a moderate monthly budget, here are a few things that most, if not all, PR firms will deliver in the first few months.

1. A Plan.  The plan doesn’t have to be long.  It just needs to provide insight into what the firm intends to do in the first 90 days.  Do they clearly articulate your goals?  What strategies and tactics will they use in the first quarter of working with you? What pitch angles will they start with?   What publications will they focus on?  The plan will provide your firm with its immediate marching orders and hopefully set them up for success.

2. Goals.  Goals can be tricky because PR firms are often reluctant to commit before understanding exactly what they have to work with.  Clients occasionally overestimate when their big announcement will go out and how enthusiastic their customers are to serve as references – which makes delivering on equally enthusiastic metrics a challenge. At REQ we tend to provide some baseline goals, recognizing that these numbers will increase over time.

3. Expectations.  Client expectations go hand-in-hand with goals. Your agency should communicate how your competitors are covered (or not) and what it will take for you to meet or exceed their media coverage.  In addition, your agency will prepare you for what it will take to get coverage in your dream list of outlets.  Do you need a customer?  A strong news hook? Will anyone care about your new product announcement?  If your agency can set expectations early in the relationship, then it’s a lot easier for everyone to define success.

4. A Clearly-defined Scope.  It’s important to understand what is included in your program.  That’s why your agency will work with you to set a defined scope of work.  Most agencies offer services beyond media relations (e.g. analyst relations, social media, speaking and awards, and video production – just to name a few). Do you have to pay extra for additional services?  Or can you swap program components in and out of your plan as priorities evolve?  This may be documented in an initial statement of work to avoid confusion later on.

5. Results.  The Holy Grail – and the reason you hired your PR firm to start with. It will take a little while for your new firm to operate full throttle, but if they’re focused on media relations, then you should see some coverage (or coverage that is secured but hasn’t published yet) in the first 90 days.  Though it’s important to be patient, you’ll know if your PR program is working based on the activity level.  And don’t discount small or second-tier placements.  These can be just as valuable as a hit in The Wall Street Journal, especially if they’re in publications your customers read regularly. They can also lay the groundwork for bigger, more mainstream news coverage.

Hope my top five is helpful – and good luck with your new PR firm!