In today's marketplace, hiring a Public Relations (PR) firm for your B2B company can be costly. Without knowing the logisitics of how public relations work, how these firms operate, how they will interact with your current inbound marketing or promotional activities, and how your buyer personas will respond, you may be going in blind.
It's important to educate yourself on the ins and outs of PR before you decide to hire an agency. This article will help.
First Things First: How Do PR Agencies Work?
As a marketer, you know that without someone working on getting your brand out there to your target personas, no one will know about you.
It's like inviting someone over to your house for the first time without telling them your address and how to get there. You need someone giving the directions to your audience on how to find out about you, and ultimately visit your website. That's usually why people turn to PR firms.
Companies must, however, be selective and really do their homework before deciding on hiring a PR frim.
Most PR agencies have dedicated services and specialities and are often industry-specific.
Every PR agency has a set of unique algorithms that determine which channel works best for a company. You also have to take into consideration the connections, years of experience, and how they approach the audience best-suited for your content.
Cost is another important factor to consider when hiring a PR firm.
Not only will there be a fee for hiring the agency, but there are also usually many associated costs. These can include:
ad budget negotiations
Don't Hire A PR Firm Based On Emotions
There are many reasons why companies feel the need to hire a PR Firm, and usually those reasons aren't well thought-out -- which can cost you.
Whether it's because you need sales right this very second or you think your product or service is the best thing since sliced bread and everyone should know about it, hiring a PR Firm isn't always the best decision.
Pushing the wrong message without facts and or a value proposition won't turn heads no matter how much money you invest on public relations.
So, before jumping on the PR band wagon, make sure you have a solid story to tell and tell it well.
Understand your buyer personas to their core and how your value proposition aligns with them. Your products and/or services must meet the challenges your buyer personas face day in and day out. Once you have this detailed and the facts laid out, you can then begin to build your PR story.
Are There Alternatives to Hiring A PR Firm?
Of course there are!
A more "inbound" alternative to the expensive PR Firm route is developing a strong influencer outreach strategy.
It may take you a tad bit longer than working with a PR Firm, but the value and cost in doing it yourself helps build stronger relationships and better ROI.
How to Get Started with Influencer Outreach
I like to start with a tool called Buzzsumo for influencer outreach. There is a free version of the platform that allows you to quickly see who is talking about your industry and more importantly, it shows you people and websites with a strong thought-leadership authority.
Looking at this information, make a list of the websites and social influencers in your space that have high page ranks, social followers, and high domain authority. These are the websites and people Google pays attention to and those that you want to associate with.
Create a quick email that you can send out to these social influencers.
Introduce yourself and let them know you like what they recently shared on XYZ.com. Start following them on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Reshare their content. This will help you build that relationship.
You can also write a blog post that includes a quote from them then send them a quick email letting them know you featured them in a recent article.
When researching reputable websites that share valuable insight into your industry, find out who the editor is and reach out to request their media kit.
There are some websites, that are solely interested in publishing great content, that will allow you to be a guest blogger without having to pay, but there are some websites will charge to have something published on their site.
If you really love the content these pay-sites publish and it ties nicely into your brand, products or services, paying to be featured wouldn't be a bad thing, but make sure it's worth it. The more visitors they are able to attract, the more it's going to cost.
Sometimes even spending $200 on an article can boost your traffic and get Google to start taking you more seriously, and for a brand that's just starting out, that's definitely worth the investment.
So, Should I Hire a PR Firm?
If you don't have defined buyer personas, a strong value proposition and/or the right brand messaging, your best bet is to wait on hiring a PR agency until you are comfortable with your over-all message and story. The last thing you want to do is dump money into a PR Agency if these items aren't well-defined.
You also want to consider your budget. PR firms aren't cheap. Unless you have a large budget to burn, its better to try lower cost alternatives (like those mentioned above) to start building your own influencer connections.
At the end of the day, no matter what you decide, your content and message must always tie back to your buyer personas.
Don't produce content that YOU think sounds good, produce content that you KNOW relates to the people who will be using your product and/or services.
This is where another alternative to hiring a PR agency comes in - working with an agency like IMPACT that can help build your brand messaging, develop buyer personas, evaluate your value proposition, and even get started with the influencer strategies mentioned earlier.
When you think about those people before making an emtional, rush decision, your content will be twice as good and will be reached far and wide without having to spend a ridiculous amount of money in public relations.
If you don't know where to begin in developing strong buyer personas,our Buyer Pesona Kit is the perfect download! Before 2017 begins, a refresher on this very important part on building success is a necessity!