Sunday, February 26, 2006

How do you choose a PR firm?

Because there are so many PR firms, choosing the right one can be difficult. Unfortunately, agencies often promise more than they can deliver.

In the world of PR, no one can promise anything. Especially media coverage. It’s NOT possible.

The only people who can promise space are advertising firms. But, even they cannot guarantee results.

Advertising is the least effective, most expensive marketing strategy out there. Most people only start there because they don’t know what else to do.

PR is effective because of the difficulty of placing articles. If an idea has to go through a reporter, editor or producer, it has some legitimacy.

Sophisticated people realize that PR is the fastest way to build credibility and reputation. That value translates into money eventually.

So, how do you choose? There are four major things to look for:
· Experience counts, but what type of experience is it? Someone who has never been a journalist can’t talk to a reporter the way another journalist can. They don’t know what to say or how to say it. Look for someone who has been a journalist.

· What type of experience do they have? If the firm mainly worked for government agencies or large corporations that get coverage easily, they won’t know how to place them for a mid-size, much less small, firm. Or start-up. Creativity is what counts.

· What industries have they worked in? If they have worked in your industry, they may know reporters, editors and producers. They also may be more familiar with the issues and jargon, which means less time getting up to speed.

· Speaking of which, beware of anyone who speaks in biz buzzwords or jargon. Reporters, editors and producers hate it. If the publicity firm can’t simplify information enough to make a child understand it, they can’t place articles. Journalism is targeted to eighth grader.

If you want to know what they a publicist can do, ask to see their portfolio. Looking at reprints or copies of actual articles will give you the best idea of what the PR person can do. And, whether they are right for you.

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