How to Hire a Public Relations Firm - Putting all the PR pieces together

At the beginning of the New Year I blogged about our company's goals for 2009 and our search for the perfect PR Firm. Well ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to report that the ballots are in. And the winner is…Pierson Grant.

Let me preface this by saying it was a very tough decision. Plenty of time spent in meetings, even more on reviewing proposals, yes, even some negotiating, but why did I select one PR Company over all the others?

Here are the questions I asked myself and the guidelines I followed to help me make my educated choice:

1. Will our company be working directly with the founder(s), or with a 2 year inexperienced account “executive”? I use the term lightly, they’re barely out of diapers in my book.

2. When I made the initial cold call stating that we were considering hiring XYZ and I would like to speak with the principal/owner, did a secretary call me back or a principal? If a secretary called, an immediate red line was drawn through that agency on my list.

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3. During our 1st initial meeting, did they listen as much as they pitched?

4. During our 1st meeting, did they offer/toss out ideas or make it seem like everything was a magical secret that only the PR Gods were privy to knowing?

5. Who makes up the team?

6. Do they have a strong internet savvy techie type of a guy or gal on board that understands and “gets the latest” in PR high tech capabilities (internet, facebook, twitter, and social networking in general)?

7. Is a separate individual working traditional PR (print, broadcast, events) while another individual works the high-tech plan?

8. Upon receiving proposals, I carefully reviewed each and every single line item.

9. Every proposal that “nickel and dimed” each individual item – I tossed.

10. Negogiate what is important to you, delete and save $$ on those areas that are not essential, yet keep in signed proposal as future projects with already determined pricing.

11. Give specific deadlines to the PR agency for completed plan (don’t start paying the first month's retainer and then be expected to wait 2 months for the final plan, before they do anything).

After completing steps 1 – 11, Go with your GUT INSTINCT. Especially if you’re a woman, 99% of the time you’ll be right.

Sorry men… it’s just a wiring thing you don’t have.

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