SGPR is a boutique public relations firm that specializes in helping small businesses within the dining, entertainment, fashion, shopping and philanthropic industries. Sabra Girard, whose background includes writing, editing, marketing, event planning, fundraising and sales, founded SGPR. Her background working for major media companies helped build and sharpen her skills in sales and communications.
(Photo courtesy of Sabra Girard)
New businesses are created every single day, and their success can hinge on having the right public relations firm by their side. When looking for a PR firm, Girard offers her expert advice to new businesses.
- Look for a firm that has experience within your industry. Ask to see their portfolio. Ask them about the highlights of their past work. What did they achieve for their client, such as a placement in a magazine or a spot on television? You do not want to pay them to learn about your industry. You want them to hit the ground running promoting your business.
- What kinds of relationships does the PR firm have with various media companies? Calling up a media outlet and selling your story to the right person is extremely difficult. The PR firm should have built relationships with several media outlets to help get your company’s products and services in front of the right media person.
- Know the difference between paid media and earned media coverage. You are either self-promoting, or someone else who is a trusted voice in media is singing your praises, and knowing your comfort zones. Unlike a purchased advertisement, earned media is not something you can control.
- Realize that there are not people sitting at a media outlet ready to publish whatever a public relations firm sends them. Media outlets have time constraints as well as certain requirements for stories, including the number and size of photographs to be shared.
- Start interviewing PR firms far in advance of your desired timeline of coverage. For a campaign that would start at the beginning of the year, make sure you have a firm in place at least three to six months in advance. There is a learning curve as well as strategic elements to consider.
- Have a good relationship with the PR firm that you decide to hire. You need to have a feeling, a trust that they will believe in your company and represent you well.
- If any agency guarantees a company that they will achieve certain editorial coverage, run from them. There is no such thing as guarantees in earned media. If you are paying for an ad, then you have a guarantee because you have paid for an ad.
This article was written by Robin D. Everson for Small Business Pulse