I run a PR firm.
So you would think that the answer to the posed question, “Should I hire a PR firm?” would be a resounding yes. My answer: “not necessarily.”
If you run a high-tech company you don’t need to hire a high-tech PR firm; with a caveat, someone does need to develop and implement a PR strategy.
As a tech company, you offer products and services to the market. How are you going to let the world know? Your offerings need to be promoted to reach potential buyers and this requires a professional communicator. Some companies prefer to hire an internal corporate person to do the work on a daily basis. Sometimes this makes sense, but not if the main reason to hire full-time is having that person a cubicle away. In the electronic world we now live in, professional PR executives can perform their job from any location -- it’s more important to find the “right” person. The two main factors to consider in whether to hire a full-time corporate person or an outside agency are costs and expertise.
Hiring a full-time person requires salary and benefits. The cost depends on what the company has as a game plan regarding the PR position. Does the position include content marketing, social media, blogging? The decision rests with the senior executive making the hiring decision….their knowledge base about communication functions and their preference for organizational structure. If the executive does not see content marketing as a required function for the company or by PR, this changes PR costs. Does the executive want the PR person to build and oversee a social media program? Again, the answer will impact the associated costs.
Some public relations professionals have a proven track record of working closely with press to secure a high volume of coverage, while some believe a release should be distributed over the wire and hope that pickup about the company will occur. Some write “press releases” for press, while others understand that releases are “news releases” that should be written for both press and potential buyers. Many PR professionals are still playing catch-up or simply don’t understand current trends in the field.
Here is what small and mid-sized tech companies should look for in hiring a PR person internally or externally:
1. Does the person understand and have experience in both traditional public relations and modern inbound marketing practices. Check out their Website to see if it meets best practices for search engine optimization, mobile utility, and lead generation.
2. Does the person understand news releases for buyers, content marketing, blogging, and social media? Even if someone else will handle these areas, the PR person will have to collaborate. I have seen lots of executives with a PR shingle, but one look at their LinkedIn page, blog, or Twitter account will tell you lots about them.
3. How do they plan and manage PR? How do they measure the effectiveness of PR, content marketing, and social media?
Companies of small and mid-size can accomplish these functions by hiring either an in-house person or an outside agency without breaking the bank. The key is finding the right person, who will develop a blueprint that is in sync with the company’s goals, and who has a track record of delivering tangible results from that plan.