The Benefits of PR
A PR firm – PR being Public Relations – can be a huge benefit to a business, large or small. PR agencies can do a lot, though there’s also a lot of confusion about what they do.
So what does a PR firm do?
Essentially, a PR firm outsources guest posting and other forms of “earned” coverage. They’re one half of a coin, covering all of the free sources of traffic, links, reputation, and visibility that you can find. Depending on the agency, you’ll find them posting about your brand on blogs both large and small. You might also find yourself covered in magazine editorials, in interviews on local news channels or radio stations, and other forms of real media.
The other half of the coin, of course, is an advertising agency. Advertising agencies cover the paid half of the spectrum, with sponsored advertising, PPC ads on other sites, social media, and that sort of coverage.
The reason for the confusion in definition is that a lot of modern agencies will cover both halves of the coin. You’ll often find PR firms that will handle paid advertising as well for an additional fee, or advertising agencies that offer guest posting services.
There’s one reason why you might want to go for a PR agency instead of a cover-everything agency, and that’s depth of coverage. A “jack of all trades” agency might cover all the bases, but they might not have the depth of knowledge or resources available to make the most of it. They won’t have the same connections to get covered in the most relevant journals, programs, or websites.
Of course, they might have all of those resources, for a price. Hiring an all-encompassing agency is likely to give you a bunch of services you don’t really need, while charging you more than a specialized agency would.
On a more mechanical level, a PR firm might have certain specific duties like:
- Writing and distributing press releases.
- Writing speeches for your CEO or other board members to deliver at sponsored venues.
- Writing pitches for guest contributions for journalists or blogs.
- Organizing individual events for the purposes of managing a public reputation.
- Conducting market research to get a baseline of public opinion from which to build.
- Expanding business networks and contact lists with relevant connections.
- Creating content for blogs, websites, and other public-facing content streams.
- Managing public relations crises.
- Managing social media.
One of the more common errors people make when thinking about a PR firm is thinking they’re only useful when you’ve messed up and hurt your reputation. When, say, a restaurant has an issue and is bombed in reviews, that’s time to call in a PR firm.
In reality, a PR firm covers crises as one small part of what they do. They’re robustly useful in times of crisis and times of calm. A large part of what they do is building a positive reputation preemptively, to make a business more resilient to negative reviews or happenings. In a way, it’s preventative maintenance.
High-end businesses will often maintain both a public relations agency and an advertising agency at the same time. Some high-end agencies will specialize in both specifically for high-end clients.
Hiring PR or Hiring Advertising?
Smaller businesses often find themselves faced with a decision. With your limited budget, do you hire a PR agency, or do you hire an advertising agency?
There’s no right answer for you. In some cases, you can find an agency that will do both to a satisfactory, if not exemplary, level. In many cases, even those agencies are going to be outside of your budget range. You’re faced with the decision, and need to determine which you can cut.
Or, rather, not cut, but handle yourself. Both public relations and advertising are important enough that they need to be done, so you need to figure out which one you can do yourself. What you need to do, then, is take inventory of the skills you already have or that your team has, and which can be handled more easily.
Guest posting and other forms of outreach can be outsourced piecemeal. You can hire a virtual assistance to do your research and craft customized pitches, hire a freelance writer to write the posts, and perform the social follow-up on your own. This covers some of what a PR firm might be doing, but it doesn’t cover all the bases; it won’t get magazine coverage, coverage from specific journalists, or the kind of value that comes form a PR firm with deep connections. On the other hand, it’s serviceable until such time as you have a budget to hire such an agency.
On the other hand, maybe you would prefer to outsource your PR and handle your advertising in-house. Maybe you personally are somewhat experienced with Google or Facebook ads, and you’re capable of managing those ads on your own. In that case, while you might lose out on the experience of an ad agency, you can still get value out of ads while you outsource your public relations.
In either case, hiring the respective agency is going to be more valuable and more expensive than doing it yourself. Once you’ve reached a point where you can hire both, it’s worthwhile to give it a shot. You can always cancel a contract and go back to what you were doing before, of course.
The Cost of Hiring a PR Firm
So the question, then, is how much DOES it cost to hire a public relations firm? As you might expect, the answer is anywhere from “surprisingly little” to “as much as you can afford.” There are PR firms that cater specifically to small businesses. At the same time, there are PR firms that work exclusively with clients like Nike or Disney. The sky isn’t even the limit for prices when some of these companies can pay millions per month.
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A good agency, by definition, must give you great reputation and response when you go out with your marketing efforts. In that, it should form a solid canvas for your brand to be discovered, recognized and loved.
Expect to siphon about 2-4 lakh per month for a good effort. But take them to task if after the first six months you don’t get enquiries and still depend on creating news in business mainlines.
This is obviously too broad. But a good PR agency can be flexible based on your needs and budget. You CAN do minimal work at even maybe 30,000 per month.
However it all depends on the time and effort involved.
Also, medium and large agencies have two models – the first and preferred one is the retainer model – you engage the firm for an annual and bi-annual time frame, for a lumpsum fee, payable at the beginning of every term. Mid of the season, there is a review in terms of what was agreed upon and what was delivered, and how the remaining path will be covered etc.
The other way is to charge on an event basis. There is an agreed task in PR for the client, and once you deliver on that, a lumpsum fee is paid. In this, as per the agreement, usually, one part is paid as a advance and the balance is paid on the completion of the task, and measurement of deliverable.
Irrespective of what is the mode of fee – it is important for the PR agency, and the client/prospect to have a clear agreement on what are the deliverables, and what will be results in a best case scenario/normal scenario/or a disaster. Any ambiguity in this, saying you will leave things to time, and handle it when it comes, will lead to a lot of acrimony and bad taste. Not just that, your fees will not be paid, as deliverables have not been defined, and hence not met.
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Get your buzz. Talk to Atharva Marcom Public Relations – secure fantastic media coverage! his can include feature articles, radio or podcast interviews, talk show appearances, red carpet events and all those other blurbs that pop up about you or your project.