Many expanding startups and emerging companies are faced with the dilemma of selecting a PR agency for the first time. It’s a challenging prospect for those with experience, a maze for those with none. Where is the best place to start?
Before commencing a Request for Proposal (RFP) process, think about your company’s needs first.
There are a few factors to consider:
- Have you got an established presence in your target market already?
- What resources do you have?
- What is the scope of your planned PR campaign
- How will you define success?
Reputation Building versus Reputation Management
Why these factors matter are more to do with how best you can achieve your objectives and what to expect from a campaign. The first question should answer if you require an agency specialising in reputation building or reputation management which are two separate approaches.
Reputation building is centred upon two aspects, building awareness in new markets and establishing your brands credibility by securing media coverage in established media outlets whereas reputation management is more centred on managing an existing reputation through strategic communications and announcements in markets you are already established in. One typically requires a more creative and consistent approach than the other. These two approaches require different campaign tactics so ask yourself what kind of agency you require first.
Finding the Right Kind of PR Support for your Startup
The next question you need to ask is what resources do you need to put behind your PR campaign. If you are a co-founding team then you will need a PR agency who can take the burden of content creation from you including opinion pieces and questions and answer pieces. An agency with former journalists can fulfill these requirements and send across content for your edits and approval. If you have a marketing coordinator or lead they are likely going to need assistance with content creation too. Naturally if you have a marketing team with a content writer the need for content creation is far less but ensuring the editorial balance of the material for the publication is important.
PR Campaign Localisation, Times & Relevance
When planning the scope of your PR campaign it is important to factor in localisation, time and relevance. From a reputation building perspective there is little your agency can do with content based on one country when you wish to target another. What material can you provide your agency that will help them localise the content to your target markets. The same goes for time. When reputation-building it can take time to secure your key objectives. Ensure your expectations are achievable. Speak to your prospective PR agencies about how long it might realistically take to get there.
How Will You Define Success In PR?
Finally, how will you define success? This is a key question you must reflect on before embarking on an RFP process for a PR agency. Have your prospective agencies laid out a clear plan to achieve your expectations? Is it credible? Does it include milestones? Are there reporting processes in place?
Selecting a PR agency is difficult but it’s not impossible. Take your time and consider your options. There is never any rush to make the right decision. If you have any questions, feel free to drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org
Managing Director at ClearStory International
James McCann is CEO of ClearStory International, a Dublin based international tech PR agency working exclusively with early-stage startups from around the world. Before establishing ClearStory, James was a former PR Campaign Manager with Web Summit, responsible for attracting top tier media to the company’s events across Dublin, Lisbon, Bangalore and Hong Kong. He currently lectures on Digital PR to final year students at the Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.