It can be daunting as a client looking for PR services and sometimes the assumptions are that an agent/consultancy is able to magically know what you want. There are some guidelines, which you can arm yourself with (especially helpful in your initial meetings) when engaging with the wide scope of PR, which will help you to realise your project.

So, what do you do?

Be clear and succinct about your core business and be able to describe the business in a couple of sentences. Being clear ensures subsequent messages are transparent and easily digestible for your audiences/market. In the same breath, be clear about why you want to engage PR. One way to start is to look at a competitor/peer you admire. What is it that you identify as something you’d like to achieve in terms of their exposure and presence in the market? Be realistic. If you’re a start-up in the SEO market, you can’t immediately expect the stature of Google.

How long is a piece of string?

Over what time do you anticipate your project falling into? So for example, do you want a product launch, publicity, an event, branding, internal communications overhaul, or crisis/issue management? Contrary to some misplaced beliefs, there is a lot of planning involved in PR.  Remember to discuss the need to build in lead times too!

Keeping toe-to-toe

Make sure you’re having regular updates between you and your agent/consultant. You both should come to an amicable frequency (weekly/monthly?), place (theirs or yours), medium (Skype, phone, email?) and/or format (discussion and/or reports?). Regular updates ensure that you’re kept up to speed with agreed timelines and to discuss contingency should plans move –  as they often do.

Designated people points

If not you, which personnel have you chosen to specifically manage the project in your organisation and who’ll be the primary contact for your agent/consultant? Ensure that your internal hierarchy is clear and that you’re familiar with the agent/consultant’s personnel dealing with you. Make sure all applicable personnel have exchanged communication details/working hours.

Fees and Budget?

Financial Aspects Documented

Yes, clients often confuse this and/or can be embarrassed about this area. Fees are what your agency/consultant will charge for their services. This includes a number of tasks such as time and creativity, These are examples of premium tasks!

A Budget is the finance you’ve allocated to make the project happen. So for example, if it includes an event, your budget should include costs for venue hire, additional (serving) staff, PA/sound equipment and/or refreshments, set/stage building and/or award trophies.

‘Game of Thrones’ or just games?

What are your expectations taking into account your finances? Often clients have Champaign outlooks, but their budgets can just accommodate larger. Be realistic about what you hope to achieve in the time and budget you’ve allocated. Any credible agency/consultant can work with realistic expectations should finances be an issue and you should be open to lateral ideas.

Terms, conditions, agreements, contracts – however short or small the project, these should be read carefully, understood and signed. Amongst other things this is a means to ensure a project is kept on track.