What small businesses should expect from PR

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With various tools like Google Analytics at the disposal of PR agencies, there is no excuse for not delivering actionable intelligence based on the coverage you’re receiving. There also is no excuse for failing to provide clear direction around who cares about your small business, why they care, and how they are showing they care. However, in my time working both with and for PR agencies, I have seen countless firms provide nothing but worthless insight to their work.

How do you make sure you’re getting the value your small business deserves from your PR agency?

Here are the four things every small business should expect from PR: • Develop the plan for inserting specific announcements into macro stories, trends, and related news. • Manage relationships with both their media contacts and yours by nurturing them all to be your contacts. • Measure the impact of their work throughout your funnel, including reach, clicks, indirect traffic, social engagement, and conversations. • Maintain engagement with media contacts, influential social media evangelists, bloggers, and influencers—not just reporters.

In order to further evaluate where a PR professional can take you small business, you should ask these three simple questions: • How much of your time do we get? If you are going to hire a PR agency, focus on hiring the professional or individual you are interacting with. If this individual can be efficient by outsourcing some of their tasks to their team, fine. To avoid misunderstandings, make sure you get it in writing how much of this particular PR talent’s time you will see. • What should we expect to see? The answer to this question had best not be results in a few months or “It takes time to develop relationships.” You are hiring a PR agency because they have the relationships. The right story gets placed within weeks and if said agency is already familiar with your industry and market, they are already nurturing related stories with the media. • What do you consider success? Avoid anything that sounds like media tours, interviews, or press releases in the right places. These tactics are day-to-day, minimum expectations of any PR agency. If that’s all they agency can provide, hire an intern instead. You want the story, owned relationships, measured business results (not just metrics), and management of trends, people, and priorities.

Hopefully by now you are getting a picture in your head of how a PR agency shouldn’t simply be used only to pitch stories. To deliver the value that makes them worth hiring, any PR agency (or professional) needs to be a part of your team. As such, they had best be providing meaningful data and insights.

The following are some ideas of what your PR agency should be reporting: • Media outlets that have covered your company, and why each is relevant. • Media members that have covered or are interested in your company, and why each is relevant. • Social media engagements tied to media coverage, such as retweets, shares, likes, and increases in overall social traffic, which mention the engager, their relevance, and their influence. • Traffic both to your website and as a result of a news article, inclusive of click throughs to your site directly from the article and the net increase in traffic to your site because of coverage found via Google searches, direct traffic, and through social media links. • Conversations influenced by the news, which can be done simply by taking a benchmark of of how many conversations you had prior to hiring your PR agency and comparing it to after announcements or news has been shared.

Knowing what you can and should get from a PR agency upfront will help your small business benefit the most from their invaluable expertise. When matched correctly, everyone wins: more efficient use of your time, more media coverage for your company, and more comprehensive coverage of what’s going on in the world or the latest products and services for readers.

Are you ready to take your small business to the next level with PR?

Want more helpful tips like the ones above plus more? Check out The Buzz: A Media Darling’s Guide to Press Coverage, get on the wait list for Hearsay’s PR mastermind group (launching in February), or email me directly to schedule a Mini PR or Mini PR Plus session today!