When trying to get new business, some PR firms won’t tell you:
1. Your company may be better off spending a limited budget on another form of communication, such as direct marketing or online advertising, instead of hiring a PR firm. PR is not always the best solution.
2. The firm doesn’t have media contacts in your area. Chances are high that half the journalists a PR person worked with in the recent past are no longer with the same media outlet, and/or may not be covering the same area. Agencies use media databases to find the right journalists to target anyway. Personal contacts among journalists are overrated. The media will respond to PR people whether or not they know them as long there’s something newsworthy to say and it’s presented well.
3. What you want the PR firm to do is not what you really need. Clients should look for PR companies that will consult with them and develop strategies, not just do as they’re told. After all, aren’t you paying for expertise?
4. Your expectations and goals for PR are too high. Of course you think your company and products are media- and buzz-worthy, but it’s hard for you to be objective. It’s not unusual to hear a prospective client say, “We want to be in The Wall Street Journal or on ‘The Today Show,’ or create record-breaking buzz about our product on Facebook.”
It’s certainly possible—for startups and small companies—to reach that kind of goal, but it’s not probable. Rather than manage your expectations from the outset, some PR firms will keep quiet and not tell you that kind of exposure may be unlikely. They figure they’ll educate you after you’ve signed the contract.
5. You don’t have a big enough budget to “move the needle.” In every situation there’s a minimum amount of money that’s necessary to get good PR results. Rather than say your budget is inadequate, some PR companies will take what they can as long as you can pay until you realize they’re not giving you the results you need. This isn’t a smart way to do business because clients will assume that the agency’s inadequacy is to blame, not their own lack of resources.
6. Your company has to spend time and effort working with the PR firm to make the plan a success. For starters, you need to thoroughly brief the PR team regularly. It isn’t possible for an agency to do great PR for your company if your executives won’t make themselves available for interviews, or don’t get back to the agency in a timely way to answer media questions.