Selecting a PR firm…

April 7, 2007

Read up on the first part of this process in Our Search for the Perfect PR Firm

So we’ve been going through this process of selecting a PR firm for a little over a month now. It’s been quite an experience and education. I’ve spoken with about 10 firms, solicited proposals from 6, and met in-person with 5 of them. Prices per month ranged anywhere from $5k to $10k (there were firms that I spoke to that charged $10-$15k per month but those were short conversations). The firms were primarily located in NYC and the surrounding area. One of the firms was located out in CA and was a personal referral from one of our valued advisory board members. The firms we met with varied in size, from two-man shops to 50+ professionals. The smaller firms are called boutiques and the larger ones are called agencies. I was advised to stay away from the agencies because chances were that we would get junior-level employees working on our account. This meant that since we were paying so little money in the grand scheme of things, it was only worth the time of a recent college grad. We decided to go with a smaller firm, where we would get the service and attention from more senior executives who had left the larger agencies out of their desire to work with smaller companies (probably only part of the story I’m guessing).

Anyway, we narrowed it down to two small firms, one in CT and the one in CA, and finally ended up hiring Libby Communications out in CA. One reason we decided to go with David Libby and team was because he is going to collaborate with a colleague of his, Dan Cohen, at Full Court Press Communications on our account to deliver the optimal level of PR expertise on both consumer marketing and technology (of which we are both). Their price was just right, although a large chunk of our budget, at $7k per month. We have a kick-off meeting with them on Wednesday to begin formulating our PR strategy. We expect work to begin May 1st.

Bottom Line: Pick a PR firm that is both reputable and has a track record (i.e. recognizable client list). If the firm was not personally recommended, make sure to get references from existing clients. Pick a firm that has experience in your field. Additionally, make sure the firm provides you with a staffing plan and basic strategy of how they would market you to the media. A staffing plan is simply an outline of who is going to work on your account. Make sure the firm understands your company and story. If they don’t get it, they won’t be able to pitch it correctly to the media, which means less press for your business. Most importantly, don’t overspend. Cash is important at this stage and you want to spend wisely. As in most circumstances, you get what you pay for. There are lots of firms out there who will take your money and give you terrible service. However, if you look hard enough, you will be able to find really good PR professionals who will do a good job for you anywhere between $6k and $8k a month.



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