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PR 365...When is it Time to Hire a PR Firm?

Posted Feb 11 2010 5:08pm

As a publicist with more than two decades of experience under my beltI know a lot about securing media placements for clients. I've pretty much secured coverage for everything under the sun - from talk showsto primetime seriesproductsauthorscelebrities and services and what I've learned over the years is that the best campaigns start with momentum and buzz.

When people come to me asking whether they should hire a PR firmI usually ask them a few very important questions. What are your sales figures or traffic like? Is your product flying off the shelves? What has the reception been to your product or book?

Now if that person responds that sales have been slowthe product has not moved and people have little or no reaction to their product then my word of advice is you do not need a PR firm. You need a focus group to help re-develop your product so that it appeals to the masses.

And therein lies the problem of hiring a PR firm. Many companies believe that PR agencies will be able to raise awareness for them but if you don't have the goods to back up the pitchthen you are doing that PR firm a disservice. While publicists pitch editors and reporters all daythey also know that breaking into mainstream media is incredibly difficult. And if you don't have a product that is going to wow an editor or journalist then you have the deck stacked against you.

If you can't figure out a way to pitch media and land a placementthen a consultation with a PR professional may be in order. These daysif you pay a few hundred dollars for a consultation where you can be given an overview of what it will take to land a placementyou might actually benefit more than hiring an agency and throwing away a monthly retainer for months on end.

Nowadaysas PR agencies downsizethere are plenty of talented consultants available to take on clients and provide them with a realistic idea of whether a media campaign is viable. If you are interested in finding out about freelance publicity consultants specializing in book publicitytoyschildren's wear and much morethen feel free to reach out to me at and I can offer up my list of favorite freelancers. Plusover the coming monthswe will be featuring some of these individuals both in person and online where they will offer advice to our community.

If you're wondering if you've got what it takes to work with a mid-size or larger public relations firmthen you must commit to spending at least $5000 per month and commit at least 2-3 months to that agency. Larger agencies command between $10,000-20,000 per month and are typically hired by major brands who can handle everything from a full scale media campaign to crisis communications.

Finallythere are personal publicists who typically handle celebrities. If you think that by hiring a firm that handles celebrities will help you potentially make headway with your campaignthink again. I can't tell you how many times I've seen companies sign with PR agencies thinking that by some stroke of magictheir celebrity roster will potentially embrace their product. While it might be easier to get your product into the hands of a celebrityunless you're willing to pay for that celebrity to endorse ityou are pretty much wasting your time with an entertainment firm.

These daysas companies and individuals search for ways to save money on unnecessary expendituresyou might be best served hiring a consultant who can help you achieve your PR goals on a budget that meets your needs.

If you have a PR questionplease email me at and we will post your answer on this blog.

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