The way people interact with brands has fundamentally changed over the last several years. Today’s consumers rely more than ever on peer recommendations, third party reviews, and unbranded content to form their impressions of companies. As a result, more companies are investing in the PR pros who can amplify the brand’s message and help them connect with their audience. Given that your PR resource manages the public face of your company and has the potential to substantially contribute to your organization’s growth, getting the right one is essential. Here are some tips for hiring the best PR pros.
- Start with the Goals
Before you even start your search, carefully consider and document your goals for PR. Your goals might include increased website traffic, a higher lead conversion rate, more social media engagement, shorter sales cycles or increased revenue. The more detailed you can be, the better. This will help drive your conversations and keep you focused.
- Consider Your Options
There are advantages and disadvantages of using an agency, contracting with a freelancer and hiring an employee. Each approach can be effective when matched with the right set of circumstances and goals. Agencies offer the opportunity to leverage the thinking of more than one individual. They also tend to have preexisting relationships with journalists. Hiring an employee, however, gives you someone dedicated to your brand 100% of the time. Freelancers can be a good option if budgets are limited, the goals are modest, and you can explain exactly what you want and how you want it.
- Think About Relationships
The practice of PR is primarily about relationships. An effective PR pro must be able to build great relationships with press and influencers, as well as members of your own team. Find out whether the professional you are evaluating already has relevant existing relationships with the people who cover your industry. If they don’t, look for evidence that they can build such a network. Are they well connected on social media? Have they built relationships with media contacts who are similar to the ones you want to reach?
- Evaluate Past Performance
I hate to sound like Dr. Phil, but the best predictor of future performance is past performance. Look for people who have a record of success in relation to your stated goals. Have them walk you through some campaigns and describe the factors that contributed to success. People learn from failure as well, so ask about hard lessons learned.
- Look for Flexibility
The art and science of PR is evolving rapidly as new technologies, networks and information channels become available. You can’t predict what will come next with any certainty, so you need to look for evidence that they can adapt. Are they up to speed on the latest media trends? Are they willing to abandon past practices that are no longer effective? Do they embrace new technologies with enthusiasm?
- Establish Expectations
It is important to discuss the subject of PR impact measurement well before you make your choice. Be clear that the effectiveness of PR will be judged based on its impact on the goals you have set out. Ask each candidate how they have measured their own success in the past and how they expect to be evaluated in the future. Be skeptical of anyone who proposes activity vs. results based measurement.
Finding the best PR resource for your organization can help build momentum toward your objectives. Keeping a sharp focus on those goals throughout the process is central to making the right choice. It will also get your relationship started on the right foot with the right expectations and mindset.