Hiring a public relations firm can be a huge boost to your marketing strategy, freeing you to focus on your business while putting professionals to work at keeping you and your business in the public view. But setting out to hire a PR firm can be a daunting task. Where do you even begin, with the many different firms to choose from? It’s important for you to realize that not all PR firms are alike and that you need to find the right PR firm for your business. Of course cost is always a factor, and you’ll want to have upfront, frank discussions about your budgeting needs when you talk with various firms, but there are other things to think about, too. The following are a few of the factors that you should consider during your search.

Experience in Your Field
One of the first choices you’ll confront when looking for a public relations firm is whether to find a specialty firm or a more general firm. Both choices have positives and negatives, and the choice will come down to your personal preferences. A specialty firm that represents many businesses in your field will more easily understand your business and already knows the layout of the field, giving them a head start in creating a PR campaign. On the other hand, these firms run the risk of creating cookie-cutter campaigns since all their clients are similar, leaving you with a public relations campaign that doesn’t sufficiently distinguish you from your competition. A more general firm, though, has the opposite issue. They can provide an outsider’s perspective that differentiates you from your competition, but it will take them longer to understand your business and field.

Company Culture
Finding the right PR firm requires that you find people you’re comfortable working with. As a result, it’s important to find a firm with a corporate culture that is compatible with your own, since the company you hire will play a central role in your marketing strategy. Each firm has a slightly different “personality,” and you’ll want to see which works best for you. If you’re a fast-paced risk-taker, you probably won’t mesh well with a public relations firm that prefers to take its time and work in a more gradual style. Companies with compatible styles will find themselves working together more easily and meeting everyone’s expectations.

Experience in Your Target Market
The services offered by various public relations firms are often comparable, making it hard to narrow down companies by that qualification. A more useful breakdown is to find out what target markets each firm has experience working with. Different demographics require different PR strategies, and you want your firm to have experience with the demographic you’re targeting. Whether you’re marketing for men over 60, young professionals, women with families, residents of a particular region or area, or any other specific group, be sure to find a company that knows how to market to that group.

Communication
Communication is perhaps the most important feature for a long-term relationship between your business and a PR firm. You want to be certain that you’re working with a company you’ll be able to get in contact with whenever you need to and that will be responsive to your needs. Make sure you know who will be handling your account, whether it’s a senior staff member, a junior associate, or a fresh intern, and how you can contact them. And then make sure you keep in touch with the company you choose. By staying in regular communication, you can make sure the public relations firm has the newest information about your business that they can share, and that your business is on their mind and not placed to the side in favor of other projects.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to find the right PR firm for you, one that will meet your needs and help you and your business create a powerful marketing strategy.