The options available when selecting a PR firm can be overwhelming….the sheer number of PR firms globally; the large advertising agencies which view PR as another profit center and the many of the “boutique” firms that specialize in product categories such as cosmetics, fashion or medicine. How do you sort through the possibilities to decide what will work best? The choice should reflect the needs and culture of you; the client. The screening process can take as long as several months, and it should be completed well in advance of preparing press releases or other communications materials that present a company’s public face to the world.
Although PR can be the most effective and valuable of marketing tools, it remains the least understood, most often underutilized and misapplied asset available in corporate America. Laitmon Inc. views PR as both a mindset and an initiative that should creatively enhance and add to the message of other marketing and promotional activity.
PR is in transition, attracting increased attention and activity. One of the reasons for this is that media costs have not increased proportionately, due to the dampening effect of incentives offered to advertisers by the electronic and print media to help keep budgets deliverable. Yet the advertiser still needs to fight for “share of voice” in the playing field.
While the demand for paid advertising remains at consistent levels, quality PR can enhance the ability to deliver messages more efficiently by identifying essential “issues,” as well as the “features and benefits” that a product or service is able to satisfy and provide. When presented in a compelling manner, underpinned with merchandising and sales promotion activity, effective PR will result in the media paying close attention.
Laitmon Inc. also believes that the screening process should include a review of the classes of trade in which a product will be promoted as well as the channels of distribution that will carry it to market. Today, the features that support the issues of sustainability, continuity and value propositions head a list where the “green” factor is always present.
Before deciding on a short list of PR firms, the services that the client requires should be carefully considered. The most basic services provided by any PR agency begin with the ability to write and effectively distribute a press release, one that will get the attention of the target media. While many agencies have competent writers, they also need to have current and up-to-date relations with the media, ensuring effective placement of releases well timed to converge with other marketing activity.
Yet press releases are not the only function of PR. Effective PR firms consistently think outside the box in putting together promotions, merchandising ideas, co-marketing projects and effective strategic alliances with companies that market within the same sphere. This can easily produce impressive incremental sales that can be achieved with monies well under what similar exposure would cost through paid media. The best agencies will discuss their current client list with you and be able to suggest possible co-marketing initiatives with their existing roster.
A final “must do” in the agency screening protocol is to thoroughly review “your team” within the prospective agency. It goes without saying that having account managers familiar with products marketed within similar channels of distribution, will bring an added value to the agency relationship.
The PR agencies we recommend for review by our clients will have been carefully screened for these essential attributes. See how we did it for Piaggio when we launched the Vespa brand of motor scooters … Vespa PR