Consider professional help

Sometimes you need professional help with your media adventures because you don't have sufficient time or expertise to properly handle your publicity efforts and your core consulting business. Frequently, when you attempt to do both, you do neither well. Consider what your practice can gain from using a public relations firm.

PR firms and consultants can be invaluable in helping you get started. They can teach you about publicity and lay out what's involved. As experienced professionals, they usually have knowledge and ideas that might take you years to acquire, if you ever could. They also may have contacts that can cut straight through the electronic fences that make members of the media so difficult to reach.

Guerrilla Strategy: Should You Use a Public Relations Firm?

The most obvious consideration about using a PR firm is whether you have the funds to support an outside service provider. Such services can be pricey, depending on how you use them. A PR firm or consultant can:

Save time in developing your publicity strategy and objectives

^ Provide expertise in planning and implementing your campaign

Help create publicity materials, such as press kits, media lists, and press releases

Obtain media introductions for you ^ Arrange interviews

Gain momentum for your publicity program

Assist with story ideas

Provide media training

Assist in evaluating your media success

Experienced PR professionals know the best media outlets for you or how to quickly find them. They are equipped to perform tasks that could be hard for you. They include developing story ideas, writing press releases, preparing media kits, planning and staging events, and building momentum for your campaign. They can provide you with media training as well as book you for and produce interviews and appearances.

Selecting the right PR firm can be as hazardous as picking the right consultant, and you face almost as many options. You can choose between firms of all sizes and different individual practitioners.

Choose your PR firm carefully and use its services judiciously. Be precise about your needs and your budget. You could easily blow your whole publicity budget on a professionally orchestrated campaign. And you may not need such comprehensive service. Decide what you need professional help with and what you can do on your own. Use the pros to fill in the gaps in your experience and knowledge about publicity.

Guerrilla Intelligence: Evaluating Public Relations Firms

Evaluate PR firms by asking basic questions:

What's the quality of their relationships with the media? Can their team help with access to the media representatives you need?

Who would actually do the work? In some firms, senior PR professionals handle client matters for the firm's largest clients, while smaller assignments are handed off to less experienced staff. Understand where you fit in the client pecking order and who will work on your account.

How are limits set on scope and costs? PR campaigns can be complex, requiring the time of many people. Even with the best intentions, the scope and cost can easily creep beyond your expectations.

Who else is out there? It's wise to shop thoroughly. Like consulting firms, the number of firms offering PR services is staggering and the quality of service they offer varies widely.

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