Women, Spirit & Money: Top 10 Tips for Woman Entrepreneurs Seeking a Terrific Public Relations Experience
By Sherri L. McLendon
The ability to select a top-notch public relations practitioner or agency can help empowered women entrepreneurs with startups or small businesses infuse new life into their business venture. But with so many public relations professionals in the field, how do you know which one is right for you?
Woman entrepreneurs account for more than 50 percent of startups, according to the Small Business Administration. As you grow your business and help more people, the need to leverage your expertise, products, and personal brand grows, too. To do this, you need a team, which is probably why you’re looking to hire someone in the PR world.
Here are my personal top 10 tips for seeking above-par practitioners:
1. Make certain the firm shares your core values or ethos.
Consider who the firm already represents. For example, if they represent a sports figure who has betrayed the public trust, and you have strong feelings along those lines, they’re probably not a good fit for you. Notice the firm’s selectivity factor. Are they careful to select best-fit clients, or do they take just anyone.
2. Can they measure return on investment, or ROI, across platforms?
Do the practitioners know what to measure, how to measure it, and how to quantify their findings? Can they explain what those findings mean? Do they adjust your campaign strategy based on the data? Minimally, the practitioner should be able to talk in basic terms about the value of a customer or transaction, and the percentages of increase or decrease in each tactical area.
3. Do they think strategically?
The right strategy matched with the best tactic produces the desired outcome, result or objective. It’s the difference between moving a chess piece and being a chess piece. We love to talk about tactics, like Facebook statistics or website traffic, because those are easy to measure. But thinking tactically instead of strategically won’t build a brand or maximize resources. Almost anyone can learn to use Facebook; not everyone knows how to actually leverage it to get results.
4. Avoid one-price-fits-all firms.
PR does not stand for press release, and not all press releases have the same function. One-price-fits-all PR firms have a cookie cutter approach, when you really want to build on your uniqueness.
5. Do they have a sense of newsworthiness or news value?
Regrettably, not all good news has “news value.” A good PR practitioner knows which news is worth the investment, and how to pitch that news in a way that increases pick-up and coverage. If they can’t find the angle or story that sells your brand, don’t go there.
6. Consider where the money is going.
If you’re on a set budget, beware of firms who place emphasis on design over content, or print collateral materials which require a lot of handling. Look instead for practitioners who deliver smart solutions within your budget.
7. Be willing to pay for “creative.”
Good creative pitches, research, the establishment of set criteria, and advance problem-solving save tons of money in the long run. If you can’t see the value in having a pro do that for you, then you’re not ready for an agency or top-tier practitioner.
8. Know what you want and are willing to pay for.
Begin with the end in mind, and expect to pay in advance. Though some practitioners still work “backwards” from the budget, or by the hour, others of us do not. Look for value, not cheap.
9. About the budget…
For a major campaign, say to launch a book with the intention of selling copies, you’ll want to consider a $10,000 retainer as the norm. If that number is staggering, consider working with an independent consultant, coach, or freelancer with industry experience, education and expertise. The retainer may be smaller or broken into pieces, and they also have low overhead and the ability to build the right team for the job.
10. Look for expertise.
Not all agencies, practitioners or consultants in the PR world are created equally. These days, anyone can be a self-proclaimed expert or specialist. Take the time to do your homework to narrow your search. And don’t look at age; look at their track record in the past 3-5 years.
Sherri L. McLendon, MA, OM is a marketing public relations consultant, content strategist, and business coach. She owns and operates Professional Moneta International, specializing in helping exceptional entrepreneurs with a higher calling accelerate their moneymaking communication strategies and deepen their mindfulness practices in business so they can help more people, grow personally and professionally, and improve their sense of value and worth.