When asked, people are usually more readily able to define social media marketing than public relations (PR). So, could we say social media is gearing up to overtake and replace traditional media?
The answer to that is no. Even though the two share some functions, they retain some specific functions that can’t be served by the other. If traditional media is still relevant, your business needs to be concerned about how it’s improving brand awareness through it. Building your brand through social media alone is limited in its effectiveness. It needs to be supported by PR efforts.
But, what’s the difference? Social media marketing and marketing in general usually employ paid media, while public relations are done through earned or free media. Marketing is for driving sales, while PR is to improve brand awareness and nurture relationships with the target audience and the public.
Understanding The Nature Of News
It’s essential, before you even start deciding which PR company to hire, for you to understand what goes into making news as this will comprise a big portion of your PR tactics.
There are only two ways to make news. You either create a story or follow one.
Understanding this fundamental will help you achieve your PR goals more effectively because then you can look at news from the perspective of the immediate receiver like journalists, influencers, speakers, bloggers, and others. These people are looking for good content, and your story should be able to provide that. It’s what they get for providing you with the platform.
What’s new within your company? That is what will need to be at the centre of your PR efforts. Is it a new app, new product, or did you win an award: something newsworthy! That is how you create a story. You’re aiming not to sound the same way adverts sound because people are more sceptical towards ads than they are towards third-party pieces.
Alternatively, you can follow stories. You do this when you notice certain stories in the news then respond to them. Journalists often need an expert to comment on certain key topics and news.
There are many other ways to create and follow a story. These are just examples to help you form a picture of what story-making is about.
How Do You Find A PR Agency
If you’re in London, you might be overwhelmed by how many PR agencies there are around you. But, you need not worry. You can narrow down to the exact one that’s good for you. If you’re going through branding agencies in London trying to decide which one to hire, here are a few tips to help you make the big decision:
1) Does The Agency Get You?
This doesn’t mean agencies must know your industry inside out. Their approach and skill should just match your industry.
There are problems you want to be solved by a PR company, but does it seem like this will be the right PR company to trust with the job? Don’t just buy into the talk; watch the results they had produced. Results speak much more honestly than anything else can.
2) Decide Which Agency Size Is Right For You
Just because you have a big budget shouldn’t mean the right agency for you is a big one. Yes, agencies will charge you plenty, but that isn’t a promise to deliver. You must do your own research to see which firm will best suit your specific needs.
Some big agencies will lure you in by sending their most senior people to pitch, but then switch to the junior staff for the real job. This will give you problems for more than one reason. You’re not just dealing with a “junior”, less experienced team but also one that likely wasn’t available on the pitch day when important details about what you want were discussed in-depth.
Unless you’re a company with PR needs in many countries, it might be best to hire a small to medium-sized agency. That way, you get to work even with the most senior and experienced team members. You’ll see the benefits in the expediency and sharpness of the results.
3) Decide On Your Budget
Is your budget aligned with what the company you’re looking to hire is expecting? This is an important area. Some companies might even consider it a make-or-break when looking to hire or be hired for a job.
If your budget falls too far below what your agency expects, then you might as well begin expecting a subpar job as it might move its best talent to a different and more rewarding project. Pay for the quality you want, but above all, be transparent and clear with your prospective PR team, and make sure you’re on the same page before you proceed.
4) Check For Capability Alignment
Digital marketing, social media, content creation, and PR used to be distinctly separate worlds, but not anymore. The walls between them are now either very thin or non-existent!
When hiring a PR team, you should not be just looking at what it’s saying. Go ahead and check the composition of the team. What are the specialties and qualifications of each member? Can the team adapt to difficult times? Does it look like it’ll give your organisation what you’re looking for?
5) Talk About Result-Expectations As Early As Possible
Yes, it’s fine for you to ask for the specific number of interviews or media placements the company expects to bring you per month. In ideal situations, you should get a satisfactory answer for this one. Above the generic, “Well, we’re not into sales. We’re more into awareness,” which is usually used as a way to not commit to a number.
It’s best to insist on getting a minimum number to work with to help you have a clearer picture of what you’re signing up for.
Hiring a PR agency is still vital and necessary to augment what you’re achieving through your digital marketing. Finding the right PR agency for your company is not a small undertaking.
For the best results, you’re going to have to look at several things such as your chemistry with the agency, its size, your budget, and its ability to bring you measurable results or not. This list, though not exhaustive, gives you a good place to start as you look to bring this very important extension of your team on board!