Throughout my career I have been fortunate to work with companies spanning numerous industries and at various stages of growth, from start-ups to global, publicly-traded companies. Each of these stages of maturity has necessitated different types of PR representations.
Early-stage companies seeking investment or acquisition tend to require strong focus on brand recognition and thought leadership campaigns. Well-established companies usually keep these as priorities, but they also must protect brand reputation through crisis and issues PR. In addition, they may need investor relations support and PR specifically focused on certain products or business units.
Big or small, there are some common characteristics among companies who are successful with their PR firms. When meeting with CEOs and marketing directors who are considering PR, I have found that a surprising number aren’t sure what ingredients they need for a successful PR investment. Finding the right firm is critical, but many companies underestimate the importance of what they themselves bring to the table.
Here are five indicators that your company is ready to invest in PR:
1. I Understand My Competition and What Differentiates My Company
PR is a great mechanism for refining your message, formulating your narrative and making it known to your target audiences. But PR is not going to identify what makes you stand out within your industry. If you are still unsure of your differentiators, invest the time to learn them before seeking a PR firm.
2. I’m Willing to Take Risks
You cannot always be completely safe when it comes to PR. Some of my most successful PR representations have been with companies who were willing to be creative and edgy. In such a noisy media environment with short attention spans, companies must be willing to take a different point of view in order to be noticed. Status quo usually equates to underwhelming PR results.
3. I Have Resources That Can Help
Good PR is not just plug-and-play. Someone at your company must be able to invest a little time each week to help your PR firm meet your objectives. Without your involvement, it is difficult for your firm to gather the assets needed to tell your story.
4. I Have Customers Who Will Validate my Message
You don’t need a lot of vocal customers to be successful with PR. You just need a few to start. Without any customer willing to champion your message, journalists will find it difficult to corroborate your claims.
5. I Have Subject Matter Experts Who Aren’t Shy
You don’t have to have the perfect storyteller within your company at the start. Your PR firm should be able to provide the training needed to coach and prepare your spokespeople to handle media and analysts. However, you do need a baseline of one or two subject matter experts who are knowledgeable and passionate about your company and your industry, and who are willing share their expertise publicly.
A talented PR firm will make your investment in PR stretch further, requiring fewer strains on your company’s time and resources. But even the best PR partner requires a baseline of knowledge and time from your company to ensure the results you expect.
What drives your investment in PR? Leave a comment below, or tweet us at @RHStrategic with the hashtag #RHetoricBlog.
RH Strategic is the PR firm for a hyper-connected world, delivering integrated media, social & digital strategies for technology, healthcare, and public sector markets.