As a startup, you have a good product or service in hand and plenty of dreams in your eyes. However, unless your startup is promoted right, nothing is going to help. The major means of promotion is advertising in the mass media where costs are prohibitive. This is where PR comes in. It gives you conversion rates that are a whopping 10 to 50 times that of advertising and this comes at a mere fraction of the cost. And if you are wondering why this is possible. The reason is most consumers trust earned media over traditional ads.
A startup really benefits from PR in a big way as it has to initially win the trust of prospective customers and build credibility.
MAKE SOME PR GOALS
Before starting to scout for a PR agency, be clear about what you want to achieve. Which aspect of your business do you want to promote? It’s good to draft out your expectations in terms of the communication objectives, your target audience and the key messages to be conveyed. The better you do your homework on this, the better your results will be. You must also make this into a neat brief.
CAPACITY TO DELIVER
When you outline the scope of work, correspondingly check if the PR agency has the capacity to deliver. For instance, if your brand wants to reach certain specific geographical regions, the PR agency selected must have a presence in these areas or a network that can reach them.
While selecting a PR agency, ask around about their credentials. Their reputation definitely can make a big difference. After all, if a PR agency is not able to project a positive image for itself, what can you expect for your brand? The answer is obvious, they are not going to be able to make the cut.
Nothing truly makes a PR agency better than a portfolio rich in work for diverse clients. When you pick a PR agency with good deal of experience, you can work with confidence knowing that they have a good insight into the workings of the market, foresee any road blocks that may come up and help you avoid them. They put you on the right track to success. Their experience would also help you in getting better ROI on every rupee that you invest.
Expertise in the domain you are in would be an added advantage for you. Do ask the PR agency if they have worked in your domain, for instance technology, lifestyle, manufacturing, banking, retail and so on. Looking at these areas of proven expertise will give you a fair idea of how they function.
Your budget plays a key role in selecting your PR agency. The best bet would be to go to a medium-sized agency who can give you good work at a reasonable cost. Usually, most PR agencies work on either a retainership basis or a per project basis.
You might be tempted to choose the project basis option as it might seem more attractive. This is suitable for one off cases like an event or winning an award. However, going in for a retainership is recommended. Here, you would be paying a fixed sum of money for the ongoing promotion of your company or brand. This always works better because PR that’s sustained works better for you. PR is not about making your brand an overnight sensation that people quickly forget but building a powerful and positive image for posterity.
ARE THEY LISTENING?
PR firms are really great at being persuasive and selling you their ideas. However, communication with them must be a discussion, not a monologue! Make sure there is a balance and check if they really understand what you expect.
PICK AN AGENCY YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH
A PR agency might have massive credentials but if they make you uncomfortable, this is not for you! It’s good to take time out and meet the team who will be working for you. Make a special note of those who will be the account executive. Since you will be regularly interacting with this person, it’s important that you are comfortable with that person. Do go with your instinct as well, don’t choose an agency that you don’t have a good feel about.
KEEP EXPECTATIONS REALISTIC AND TRANSPARENT
Make sure you let the PR agency know what exactly you are expecting. At the same time, don’t go overboard with what you expect, keep things real.