Gini Dietrich

Seven Reasons You’re Not Ready to Hire a PR Firm

By: Gini Dietrich | April 3, 2013 | 

Seven Reasons You're Not Ready to Hire a PR FirmWe get lots of phone calls and emails from people wanting to work with us. It’s a great position to be in and certainly helps my introverted self from having to sell in a way that makes me uncomfortable.

Sometimes the prospects are start-ups and they want to trade services for equity. While I’d love to be able to do that (Jay Baer does some angel investing and coaching), we can’t make payroll with equity. So we often turn away those opportunities.

More often than not, though, the organizations just aren’t ready for outsourced marketing and communications help.

Seven Reasons You’re Not Ready to Hire a PR Firm

Throughout the years, I’ve figured out the questions to ask to disqualify prospects (eventually I’ll take Marcus Sheridan’s advice and send them content that helps me disqualify them).

If you think you’d like to hire a PR firm, go through this list first.

  1. You don’t have solid business goals that drive the strategy and metrics. You’d think this goes without saying: Every organization should have goals. But most don’t. When I ask a prospect what they want to accomplish with a marketing communications program, they typically say, “More revenue.” Great (don’t we all?). Quantify that for me. If you don’t know how to do that, you’re not ready for professional help.
  2. You want to hire the firm that worked for your competitor. While it’s great to have a niche, it’s rare there is a cookie cutter approach to working with organizations. If you want the intellectual property of an agency that worked for your competitor, first ask yourself why they’re no longer working for them (and, if they still are, don’t dare think about stealing them away!), and what you liked about the work they did. If you can’t differentiate yourself and want them to execute the same program, you’re not yet ready for external help.
  3. You don’t have the budget. There is almost nothing worse to hear than, “I don’t have a budget. You tell me what it’s going to cost.” Guess what? You can’t afford a PR firm. When I tell you how much it costs to do everything you just described to me, you’re going to have a heart attack. Literally. You must have a budget (or at least know how much you’re willing to pay) and understand how you’ll get a return on that investment. If you think you’ll just “fit it in,” go back to the drawing board.
  4. You think PR equals getting your name in newspapers and magazines. It’s easy to relate public relations to media relations because it’s tangible; you can see a story and pass it along to your friends, family, clients, and peers. But if you are thinking about hiring a PR firm with the intention of having them only get you stories, you need a publicist, not a PR firm. Big, big difference.
  5. You think the Internet is a fad. I say that kind of in jest, but if you think your business is unique and social media or content or email marketing won’t work for you, you’re not ready to hire a PR firm.
  6. You use the word “vendor” instead of “partner. If you don’t know the difference, you’re already in trouble. A great PR firm will only work with you if you consider them a partner in your organization’s growth. They want access to your data, your analytics, team members in other departments, and even financial information. If you aren’t ready to share that or want to hire someone to do as you say, when you ask for it, you’re not ready to hire a PR firm.
  7. You’re not ready to learn. I received a really great compliment from a client a couple of months ago. She said, “I love working with you. I have learned so much!” She is the ideal client because she is not only willing to learn, she wants to learn. If you’re not willing to put aside your ego and let the experts teach you a thing or two, don’t waste your money.

Now it’s your turn. For my fellow communications professionals, what would you add to the list? And for my business leader peers, how did you know you were ready to hire external help?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • margieclayman

    That vendor versus partner thing is particularly important. We often are sequestered off as “the ad guys” even though we can and often do so much more. Perhaps it’s an effort to make the C-suite feel better about your own capabilities, but it automatically frames the relationship in a way that makes it seem more…expendable, I guess.

    Great post!

    • margieclayman I always ask questions in the first meeting that get me to how the prospect sees the relationship. Most of the time, they’ll actually say the word “vendor,” which is a huge red flag to me.

  • The Internet isn’t a fad???

    • KenMueller It is. For you.

      • ginidietrich I’m not even sure what that means…

        • KenMueller Don’t worry. Just go back to your pen and paper.

  • Being called a “vendor” makes me super stabby.

    • jasonkonopinski Me too! It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard when I hear it.

    • jasonkonopinski I love that you used the word stabby…I use it often. This is how I knew we’d be friends.

      • yvettepistorio jasonkonopinski ginidietrich Word …”vendors” are the people who yell in your ear about churros and Diet Coke at the Giants game.

  • PattiRoseKnight

    I can’t tell you how many clients at my previous firm wanted #4.  I remember one client wanting to be on the front page of the WSJ and our EVP nicely told him that he probably didn’t want the front page of the Journal – odds are it wouldn’t be a good placement for his company if it was the front page of the Journal.  
    Some clients or potential clients don’t know what they want or need and it’s our place to nicely let them know what they need.

    • PattiRoseKnight Do you remember the prospect who called right before Thanksgiving to tell us he needed help getting Christmas sales and, if he could just get a story on the front page of the NY Times, it would happen? I told him there was only one way he was going to get on the front page of the NY Times that quickly: Kill someone important.

      • PattiRoseKnight

        ginidietrich PattiRoseKnight I do….if they really thought about it – do you really want to be on the front page?  Not really.

  • giesencreative

    That’s a really good point about access to data and other people in the organization. I imagine that’s a roadblock for quite a few companies.

    • giesencreative It is! A big one. We’ve gotten to the point that, if they won’t give us that kind of stuff, we won’t work with them. Not only is it a red flag that they see us as a vendor and not a partner, but we can’t be successful without access to their data.

  • Wait PR is more than just newspaper and magazine articles? ginidietrich why are you just now sharing this news? ;o)
    I would move #3 to #1… because if they don’t have a budget the greatest strategy and goals really don’t mean anything.

  • One of the questions I ask is, “What do you want ‘PR’ to do for you?” It’s a combination of some of what you’ve listed, and it’s very telling. “Get me in the media” is an answer that tells me they really want media relations. That is not a bad thing, but I’d like to know *why* I’m being engaged to do media relations, for example. It also tries to get at their business objectives, and what I find, more often than not, is that this leads to a conversation that makes them stop and say… Oh. Obviously I need to figure that out before hiring a firm. So short-term I may close that particular door, but I think long-term they appreciate that someone made them stop and think.

    • Shonali Totally agree with you…and I’m okay with closing that door if it means we’re not going to spin our wheels and not be successful because they don’t now what they want.

      • HowieG

        ginidietrich Shonali I want PR to ensure my space daiquiri glass is always full. Can it do that?

  • This list. I love everything about it!! I’d the following:
    1) if you are turning to a firm to cover up a faulty business plan, poor internal organization or some other internal structural flaw. My job is not to dress you up and make you look pretty, it is to help the world see why you are pretty.
    2) if you believe by paying a firm they will instantly transform your business, customers will storm your doors and you’ll be able to buy a vacation home in Fiji as soon as they cash your check. PR and communications is a process, not an instant overnight get rich quick plan.
    3) if you think you can just hand everything off and be completely disconnected to the process, take no responsibility and just sit back while the firm makes your business a success (see #2). Braincheck! It is your business, you must be part of the process, you must take responsibility, follow through with plans, help facilitate success.

    • Sorry for typos here! On iPhone and it is not being my friend today!

    • chriscaval

      LauraPetrolino Love the additions. It’s like organizations asking for a strategic plan. To enact. Sustainable strategic planning is a PROCESS.

      • chriscaval exactly! ‘Sustainable’ is the keyword here. Sadly I think there is a disturbing and dangerous trend with business owners to chose instant gratification over long term sustainable and scalable business growth. Lack of foresight is a bit of an epidemic.

    • LauraPetrolino OMG! Yes, yes, and yes! The third one especially. YES! Stop canceling your weekly meetings with us, get us approvals on things so we can do our job, and provide us information that helps us make you look smarter.

      • HowieG

        ginidietrich LauraPetrolino I struggle with pushing for the things I have asked for more than once. I feel that later when they ask ‘Why didn’t this happen?’ and I can say because I asked for this 7 times over 3 weeks why should I ask an 8th time? Is this kindergarten?’

        • HowieG  LauraPetrolino That’s when I go into I’d rather ask for forgiveness than permission mode. If they don’t get us what we need, I make the decision for them. We rarely get into trouble for that.

        • HowieG ginidietrich LauraPetrolino One thing I’ve done with problem clients is create a timeline of milestones, showing my typical turnaround of hours/days versus theirs of days/weeks to demonstrate that they’re the bottleneck. Maybe also suggesting they appoint a true point person to manage approvals on their end.

        • photo chris

          HowieG ginidietrich LauraPetrolino hysterical! AT one point in my life I was going to teach. I think the background has helped specifically for this reason.

        • HowieG ginidietrich YES! There are some clients that I have definitely gone all ‘Jerry MacGuire’ on! “Help me, help you! Help me, help you! Help me, help YOU!!”

        • belllindsay

          HowieG I’m the same Howie. I have no patience for extreme handholding. ginidietrich LauraPetrolino

    • HowieG

      LauraPetrolino this is no different than the 75% of social media bloggers and agencies pitching how easy it is to be rich with a Facebook page. When someone says direct marketing is their social media goal I respond so how big is your Facebook/Twitter Advertising Budget because that is the only form of direct marketing on Social Media.

      • HowieG Oh lordy, don’t even get me started on this! You are exactly right. Trying to get a client to understand that some of the ‘ideas’ they’ve gathered from other agencies and bloggers about social media are inaccurate and misleading, at best and destructive at worst is how I spend a good portion of my time with many new prospects. Destroying a fairytale is not often a well received action. Like telling grown adults that there is no Santa Claus and unicorns will not start pooping pots of gold at their door step as soon as the send their first tweet.

    • LauraPetrolino I love your additions to the list!

  • chriscaval

    1 and 3 most essential. 1 demands specificity and attention to process and culture.

    • chriscaval Yes…and process and culture are VERY important. So much of what we do is about chemistry so a good culture fit is pertinent.

  • #8: Are the organization’s leaders on board/aligned? I was brought in to help a small professional services firm do some rebranding and first-time marketing. It was the newer, younger people who brought us in. As the process went on, it was clear that one of the guys with his name on the door wasn’t on board. He didn’t even think they needed a website. (This wasn’t 1999, by the way — it was 2007!) He managed to throw enough monkey wrenches into the process to dilute the results and make the process pretty miserable for all.

    • RobBiesenbach OMG! That’s super painful. I was just talking to a client about a similar experience. They went into an organization and thought they’d made the sale, when the VP tore it down. Always start at the top.

      • ginidietrich Gah! That’s the worst. Well, among the worst. At least the VP rejected things outright, unlike my guy, who smiled and nodded at first then gradually undermined things. A true “meeting troll” per Seth Godin’s blog this morning.
        No matter — it all makes for a riveting story when I talk to groups about overcoming organizational inertia and fear. The capper came when, unsatisfied with the direction things were going, he suggested we go to their competitors’ websites and pull language from there! You know, so they wouldn’t look so different!

        • RobBiesenbach The smirks and eye rolls while undermining you. That seems like something very leadership-like. I’d like to work for that guy. NOT.

  • Expectations. I always like to have a discussion about expectations to run through the topics on the list above. I want to know what people think and why.
    Someone approached me not long ago to talk about a writing gig and wanted to pay two cents a word with a guarantee of $100 for the entire job. They usually hire non native English speakers to write for them. Got to love the idea that you can hire a professional in the U.S. for peanuts.

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Two cents per word?! Wow. You’d be rich.

      • HowieG

        Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes remember that professor who has his computer write books and has over 100,000 on Amazon. Joshua you need that program!

      • ginidietrich Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes There are still plenty of one-off copywriting gigs around for a nickel per word.

  • HowieG

    Shonali blogged about Public Radio Measuring yesterday. And now today you blog about hiring a Public Radio Firm. Very coincidental?
    The budget reason and the media relations reason are the two that stand out. Drives me crazy all my years in sales that clients won’t give a budget thinking that if they do they will get ripped off. They forget it goes both ways. And I think most small businesses think of PR vs the publicists they really need.

    • HowieG I always love it when prospects say to me, “If I tell you my budget, you’ll spend it.” Um, yes. That’s why it’s the BUDGET.

      • HowieG

        ginidietrich you know my thoughts on that. I have mixed feelings about companies and agencies. On the one hand the agency should work to maximize the value of that budget for the client vs themselves. On the other Brands beware. Aren’t you monitoring, watching, involving yourself to ensure your best interests are at heart?
        Brands would say ‘If I had an expert on staff why should I hire an agency’. But you just need someone who knows marketing with some Finance/Stats/Accounting skills. For a big brand that spends 9 figures on Advertising/Marketing/PR you can easily pay an employee big bucks with an MBA to ensure that gets spent wisely.

      • NewspaperGrl

        ginidietrich HowieG I wonder if you could give a range, such as most of our clients your size start out with a budget of at least $10k per month (insert number). When I talk to clients they have no clue what’s realistic. To them, $10k is an enormous amount of cash to spend and they’ll weed themselves out and not waste your time. I explain also, even if they have the cash, if they spend too low they’re not likely to get great results. And that it takes time, so if they can’t sustain the budget for several months then they can’t afford it.

        • NewspaperGrl ginidietrich HowieG I love this approach! It gently lets clients know whether they are in the right place or not. And I agree 100% — I don’t want to take on a client with a budget that is so small that failure is inevitable. I don’t like failing, so most likely I will wind up doing more work than I should. Embarrassingly, it’s taken me years to discover this. 😉

        • TaraGeissinger NewspaperGrl ginidietrich HowieG I do something similar because many clients just have no concept and then get such a range from other firms/contractors they talk to (most impossibly cheap, i.e. such a low price that I know they are either a) doing nothing but taking the money and BS their way through showing progress or b) farming out to one of the two ‘i’s- India or interns, so essentially doing nothing (or worse)). So I will try to give them ranges and make sure they understand scalable options, as well as explain why my proposal will come in higher. I’m very upfront. 
          And Tara, it has taken me a looooong ass time and lots of pain to also come to that place, vs. signing a client and ending up scope creeping myself broke because I wanted them to be successful, but it was impossible to do so on the budget they allotted. You shouldn’t be embarrassed you should be proud you figured it out with your career in tact! 🙂

  • GREAT list. #1 and #3 are huge. I can’t tell you how often I hear “I don’t have a budget.” It feels like this game of poker. No one wants to show their hand first. I think many businesses are afraid that if they tell you how much their budget is that you’ll just automatically make recommendations to fill that up. EVERYONE has a budget – or more appropriately, what they’re willing to spend. I think this goes back to the website discussion and why having minimums and starting points for marketing programs on the site will help weed out people who don’t have a budget and clearly can’t afford to hire a firm.

    I would add to the list just wanting to dive in on projects without building a strategy or plan first. Many of the projects businesses want – a website redesign, to add a blog, get on social media, get in the paper, etc – may not make sense if you take the time to understand goals, needs, etc. Without the WHY, the WHAT and the HOW are not going to be very well executed.

    • P.S. Is this going on your “who we don’t work with” section of your redesign that seanmcginnis suggested? I think this would be great! Heck, I want to steal it! 😉

      • HowieG

        lauraclick seanmcginnis did you see Sean now has listed the Chicago Bears. I think they failed the test for his digital marketing class then tackled him.

      • lauraclick seanmcginnis Please don’t give Sean any more credit than he deserves. I’ll never hear the end of it.

    • lauraclick My answer to that is always, “Of course we’re going to spend it…that’s why you have a budget!” If you don’t want me to use the whole thing, tell me it’s $20,000 less or something. Jeez.

  • Love it, Gini. The client has to be passionate about the importance of effective communication. And it’s not just about mass communication efforts. That communication has to be transparent.  It has to be human. Like you mentioned, the client can’t just be thinking about traditional PR & Spin practices. They have to understand and believe in the integrated communication effort that gets put in place to achieve results. In the end, it starts with a specific attitude.

    • Matt_Cerms I had a prospect call me a couple of months ago and tell me they were looking for someone to help with astroturfing techniques. Um, no thanks.

  • One more! You say you want to create a “viral Internet video.”

    • RobBiesenbach LOL!! We have an answer to that…”Film two guys kicking each other in the nuts and a viral video you will have!”

      • HowieG

        ginidietrich RobBiesenbach that won’t guarantee viral Gini! Search You Tube I bet you find hundreds with almost zero views. Only the Jackass crew really made it big doing that. But I suggested to Justin Bieber that could help him keep on top if he did that with Kanye West.

        • HowieG ginidietrich RobBiesenbach OK fine. I’m taking down the video of me kicking my IT guy in the nuts. But I’m still going to kick him in the nuts……..just won’t record it anymore. Although my therapist says it’s helpful.

  • LisaThorell

    All great points, ginidietrich and commenters . Another marker I see for those not ready for PR are those who expect instant gratification from one isolated campaign…usually starting from zero! The word “campaign” itself has become a marker. I’ve had people come with a new product introduction, wanting to hit it out of the ballpark on the first round (your front page of the NYT example) with a limited budget and a very narrow range of dates. It’s a very “Wham! Bam! Thank you, Mam!” mentality.  I’ve learned to pass on those…

    • LisaThorell — You said exactly what I was going to say! If you think that one month or one campaign is all that’s needed to “turn your business around,” then hiring a PR firm is not what you need. PR is ongoing. When done correctly, it’s dynamic and compounding and a wonderful partnership between your brand or business and a marketing firm who cares just as much about your success as you do. And, quite frankly, that takes time and money! LOL

      • TaraGeissinger LisaThorell I had an interesting conversation with a friend last night who said they were looking at the data for a client and discovered most people stick with the company they choose for insurance when they get their first policy…for the rest of their lives. Talk about an insight that creates a need for an ongoing PR program. He said they went from project work to a three year contract because of that one nugget.

  • they say things like “just take over my Facebook or post to my Pinterest” without any clear strategy. if you don’t have a strategy (or goals, as you mention), hire an intern – not a PR firm <bangs head on desk>

  • Kimberley Williams O’Quinn

    8. You want to get on Instagram/Twitter/G+ because you keep hearing about how popular it is.

  • Kimberley Williams O’Quinn

    9. You don’t have a segmented email list. Heck you don’t even have an up to date prospect list.

  • susancellura

    These are the type of items one deals with internally as well, especially if the marketing communications role is relatively new to the company. Of course, we already have the job, so to speak, but they want to see fast results while not understanding what actually has to happen. Brand awareness? What’s that?  LOL.

    • susancellura The brand awareness one is always so hard. Often, executives get frustrated and let their comms team go only to realize the brand awareness actually was very effective. Then they lose months trying to get it back.

  • maryhruth

    Might need to link to this from my sales pages!

  • StorytellerGal

    8. You want to get on Instagram/Twitter/G+ because you keep hearing about how popular it/they are with no real business reason for doing so. 
    9. You don’t have a segmented email list. Heck you don’t even have an up-to-date prospect list.
    10. You don’t think bloggers count as valid “media”.

    • StorytellerGal 9A: You want to send all your product news to your non-segmented, unqualified list.

  • DickCarlson

    When I was younger, I used to try to “help” potential clients who weren’t ready to hire me.  I’d teach them how to write goals, I’d educate them on how to purchase services, I’d spend time with them to show them the pitfalls of taking shortcuts and going with the lowest bidder.
    And then, most of the time, they’d leave me for someone who operated like a real business when they were ready to pay money.

    • NewspaperGrl

      DickCarlson I’ve fallen for that trap too. This would make a great blog post.

    • photo chris

      DickCarlson I make this “helpful” mistake in the (thankfully small) sales portion of my position all the time. Mind you- I’m talking about a COMPLETELY different sale- photography services, but, the “real” sales people in the office outsell me by easily 20% a month,  I don’t get it.

    • DickCarlson I am a total sucker for helping potential clients too. 🙂 As I’ve been in business longer, I’ve realized that taking on clients who require THAT much maintenance simply means that I won’t have time to dedicate to clients who have the budget *and* the goals.

      • TaraGeissinger DickCarlson Yeah a totally related thread is, know your value, be able to communicate it, and don’t work with someone who doesn’t care about those two things.

    • DickCarlson Grrrr. That’s so frustrating! People.

  • photo chris

    Heck- I’m the INTERNAL help and I fights against all seven of these regularly! hrmmmmm….

  • Can I hire you if I promise NOT to give you equity in my company?

    • belllindsay

      Robb Wexler I’ll take Gini’s equity Robb! 😉

    • Robb Wexler This made me laugh out loud!

  • MarcGirolimetti

    I know EXACTLY what I want from AD, but I can’t afford you, at all, and thus I slink away to a corner and sob, BUT I do my best to keep our relationship strong, should the day come when we can. I know we need to do some of these things ourselves, in order to reach the next stage of our business evolution.

    • MarcGirolimetti Save those pennies, work husband!

  • NewspaperGrl

    I’d love some follow up posts, such as 
    Things to do before you hire a PR firm that talks about how to know you’re ready and tips to knowing you are.
    The difference between media relations, publicists, PR firms, branding expert, etc. and the average costs/things they can do for you.
    I’m unique in that I just write press releases and sometimes the stories are so good that my clients have ended up on the front page of a newspaper or on TV. I have to explain I’m not a full service PR firm and that they likely couldn’t afford or wouldn’t get very good results if they did. What I think they are asking for is how to improve their sales and business. Laying the foundation for your business is hard long work and its expensive, but you have to do it before you’re ready for the next step. 
    Thanks for the post. 
    Blog On

    • NewspaperGrl I LOVE these ideas. I’ve captured them into draft posts so I don’t forget. I’ll give you credit when I write them. Thank you!

  • photo chris

    I must add that I find it extremely helpful that you, as “pro PR people” struggle against these things as well. When I bang my head against the wall for the tenth time in a week I will stop before the 11th time, take a breath, and  remember that this is, seemingly, typical of working with a CEO- especially of a small business.
    Of course, that’s depressing as well, lol.

    • photo chris I wish I’d written this from both perspectives. It’s really interesting you face the same challenges internally. What advice would you provide before someone hires a PR pro internally?

  • I’m still at a stage in my business where I’m leery of saying these things “out loud”, but I think them every time I get that email that puts strict parameters on what a potential client will or will not do. That’s not even getting in to all the issues of certain people who want to believe they know  better than I do (which may be quite true about many things, but then why hire me?) Those are the prospects that fizzle out or proceed with work that they never follow-through on and then wonder why nothing I did worked. Sigh.

    • Karen_C_Wilson You are so right! I tell my team all the time we are the experts and our clients (as much as we love them) don’t know as much as we do about marketing and communications. They may think they do, but it’s very rare to find a bosom buddy working on the client side.

  • 8. You want to create a popular internet meme.

  • i7Chris

    I’d add “Are you ready to listen?” There are clients who like the “idea” of having an agency, but sometimes are just not ready to listen to new ideas, ideas outside their comfort zone or to hear conflicting opinions. A good agency will (perhaps kindly, politely and/or gently) suggest that a client’s pet idea “could be improved upon” or “may be a better fit once these building blocks are in place” or explain why a tactic might work better in a different industry or for a different company.  Be willing to learn and to hear new ideas. The client is the expert at his or her business and/or the expert at his or her industry; but the agency you’re hiring is an expert at PR/Mkt/Comm etc.  Work together to win.

    • i7Chris Yes! So many think, “Oh we’ll hire this agency and they’ll do the work and I won’t have to do anything.” Um, no.

      • i7Chris

        ginidietrich i7Chris  LOL as if!  Would you hie someone to work in your company and think that? Hiring – whether it’s a new employee – or an agency – requires managerial skills and leadership. The “work” involved changes (ie: you might not be writing those press releases yourself now -> now you are proof reading and providing feedback.)

  • Hi Gini, that’s a great list. I would add: you haven’t considered an in-house solution. Many big organizations have in-house communications departments. But hiring staff to handle communications is a big commitment for small- to medium-sized businesses. Nevertheless, it sometimes doesn’t make sense to outsource. But the only way to find out is by looking at your requirements and comparing the cost of hiring with outsourcing. 
    In terms of the former, companies who are concerned about sharing proprietary information won’t be comfortable with an outside agency. But if a company has a seasonal business with lots of peaks and valleys, outsourcing makes all kinds of sense.
    And in terms of the cost, if you’re going to hire you need to consider not only salary and benefits, but the time required to interview, train and manage the successful candidate.
     As always, thanks for sharing. Enjoyed the post.

    • Shelley Pringle Really great add! We recently had a client ask us if we thought they should hire someone internally. Even though we don’t want to lose the business, I was pretty open about helping them write a job description to include all of the things we do. When they realized they couldn’t get someone like that for less than $200K a year, they opted to stay with us.

  • Jake Meador

    Cost is a big one for us too. We had one company recently tell us that they wanted marketing help but “We’re already spending (amount) and we really don’t want to spend more than that.” The amount they quoted was a fraction of what most companies in their field spend on marketing. Instant deal killer right there. We love helping communities, but there is a cost to doing that and if you aren’t willing to pay it, we really can’t do anything for you.
    Another that relates to the lack of goals is that we meet a lot of companies who think because they have average occupancy or average rental rates, they don’t need help–even if those five vacant units are costing them three grand a month (which they usually are). So it’s not so much that they don’t have goals, as that they have really crappy goals, IE “I’m at 95% occupancy, so it’s totally fine that I’m leaving $36,000 a year on the table as a result of my 5% vacancy.”

    • Jake Meador Can you imagine what you could do with $36,000 a year?! That’s too bad.

    • i7Chris

      Jake Meador You are SO right. In the hotel industry for example, alot of firms will say “oh 100% of our rooms are booked – so we’re great.” hmmmm not so fast. How much did you have to mark down those rooms to get to  100%  occupancy?

      • photo chris

        i7Chris Jake Meador Ahh, that’s because rooms are the bargaining chips to booking weddings and corporate events. Brides won’t even blink at a hotel who won’t do something for them on that side.

  • photo chris

    Hi Gini! It’s an interesting question and the short answer to it is that I think these are excellent questions to ask before you hire a firm, a PR person, or if you are a PR person about to take a job with a company, especially if it’s a totally new position to them!
    However, I’m not sure I’m the person to ask. I should probably explain my job a bit more- I’m the Relationship Marketing Manager for a wedding photographer studio. My primary responsibility is to build relationships with people who are in a position to refer us to brides and grooms- mainly the catering and sales teams at  hotels, restaurants (somewhat) and country clubs. 
    So while technically not THE  PR person (we don’t have the title anywhere in the co.), I consistently advocate (bang my head against the wall), that content marketing and consistent contact are key not only to this position’s success, but will help the company as a whole, from selling couples, to building word or mouth, to establishing ourselves as experts in the field , to commanding a higher price for the work we do and to attracting a higher end client and on an on. And I can’t even get started on our head-in-the-sand approach to yelp. Let’s just say I forward on your posts at LEAST once a week to back a point I’ve made. 
    I think small companies who are looking to make PR a FT position need to be educated about what PR is and isn’t, preferable BY a PR firm, and that they should use a a firm to establish a realistic job description and goals . Perhaps you could add that on to your services 🙂 You know, in addition to everything else you do!

    • photo chris I one thousand percent agree with you. Particularly with the work you do, content is key. Holy cow! The possibilities!

  • Fab list – I’ve got a post running soon, this will make a great addition. Now if only we can get the people who need to read these kinds of posts.. to actually read these!
    You hit on one of my questions below ginidietrich – You’re not ready to WORK. If you think that signing a check and reviewing a few emails a month are all you’ll have to do, you’re so not ready. Outsourced does not mean hands off, set and forgotten. 
    As part 2 to Shelley Pringle good question – You’re not willing to share what you are already doing in house, don’t see that as part of the budget. Just wrote it – what, there’s no one drawing payroll and benefits responsible for developing strategy, driving business, working w/ customers, many other communications functions? See – there’s budget and staff there, somewhere. Too often they’re not willing to listen, to learn, to work b/c they see you as a vendor not partner.  And sometimes frankly as competition, afraid you’ll do  their job – only better, meaning you’ll get the budget, the projects, etc. 
    cc i7Chris the not listening is a big one, not just in terms of your PR advice but the business in general. If you’re not willing to consider the idea that your ‘pet project’ needs improvement, and that the PR can and should offer smart, strategic business counsel, you’re not ready.  FWIW.

    • i7Chris

      3HatsComm ginidietrich Shelley Pringle i7Chris 3 Hats – I think we all need to do a radio show with Gini and have a “panel” discussion!” Oh what kinds of FUN FUN FUN those conversations could be!

      • photo chris

        i7Chris 3HatsComm ginidietrich Shelley Pringle I’ll bring the resparado 😉

    • 3HatsComm I’m going to start sending these kinds of posts to prospects (which is why I’m writing them). It’ll help me qualify leads and allow me to spend more time with those who are ready.

      • i7Chris

        ginidietrich 3HatsComm OMG what a good idea!

      • ginidietrich I’ve got a list I use now – but it’s more strategy, goals. Something like this would be a much better screener, so it’s time to update.

  • photo chris

    Choir. Preacher..Can I Get an “AMEN?!” 😉

    • i7Chris

      photo chris  AMEN!

    • photo chris AMEN!

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