Questions to Ask When Hiring a PR Firm


Most PR firms will jump at an opportunity to work with a client that has a good budget and a decent story. Many don’t go much further than that (at Snackbox, we’re a little choosier than an average firm). As a client, it is important to ask the right questions before hiring your PR firm. Here are a few thoughts to help you in your search:

1. Do you specialize in any particular areas?
PR firms typically have expertise in a couple of areas. Examples include healthcare, hi-tech, crisis communications, consumer packaged goods and social media. In some areas, such as entertainment and sports, a specialist is a must. However, in any industry, you’ll typically get stronger results from firms with experience in your industry or field.

2. Who will be working on my account?

Many times, the team that pitches for your business is not the team that you’ll be working with day to day. It’s important that you talk with your day to day contacts to ensure there is chemistry and a thorough understanding of both your business and your goals.

3. What are the firm’s past pitching successes?

Most PR firms can write and pitch … but how do they go about the process? What are some of their best case studies? And, do they have case studies in your industry?

4. How often will we communicate?

Many times, a PR team will get lost in the work and will forget to update you. At times, you won’t hear a peep until the invoice comes through. Find out from the firm how they plan to keep you updated on account progress.

5. What is included in a typical contract?

Many firms require a contract – we certainly do. But it is important to review the contract with your own legal team to make sure you all agree on the terms. Are you locked into a contract?

6. How much do I need to spend to achieve my goals?

Many times, a monthly retainer is based on the number of hours you’re purchasing. These hours directly correlate with the anticipated number of placements secured. A safe rule of thumb is $1,000 for every placement secured.

7. What will I get in return for my investment?

No reputable PR firm will guarantee results. That just doesn’t happen. But you can ask to see placement reports for other clients to get a feel for the firm’s track record.

8. Who else is on the client roster?

Take a look at the other companies that are working with this firm. Are they reputable? Talk with those companies about their own experiences with the firm and ask them some of the questions on this list. Key questions to ask existing clients include those about client service and results achieved.

9. Who are your references?

Not only is it important to talk with a client or two, but see about talking with a few media contacts they’ve worked with, too. Since this firm will be representing your company, you want to be sure they have a good reputation with journalists, too.

10. Who are some of your past clients?

Find out with whom the firm has worked in the past and why they’re no longer working together. Firms and clients change hands quite often, so don’t consider that a red flag. However, the story behind the departure may bring light to potential red flags.