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Don’t fear the PR contract

By Lisa Goldsberry

14754739_sLearn more about what to look for to make smart decisions concerning PR expertise

So, you want to increase your positive news coverage, improve your reputation and be sure that you’re ready for any crisis. It sounds like you’re ready to get assistance from a PR firm. But not so fast: Deciding to hire a PR agency can be a big step.

However, before any work can begin, a contract has to be approved and signed. This part of the process can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be when you know the facts.

Things to look for

When meeting with a PR agency, bring a list of goals you hope to achieve and be ready to discuss how they can be accomplished and how long it may take. It’s important to consider why you’re hiring a PR firm in the first place and to realize these things don’t happen overnight.

A project or product launch, reputation building (or rebuilding) and media or social media strategies take time. Of course, you should build in measurable objectives for different stages in the process to ensure that things are on track and to perform any necessary adjustments. There are numerous factors to consider before you sign on the dotted line.

Your budget: While it’s fine to say that the work performed by qualified PR professionals is priceless, we all know that no business has an unlimited budget, and you need to start with an actual dollar amount. However, putting a number on the value of the increased brand recognition from a series of articles or greater website traffic following a social media campaign isn’t easy. Determining your PR goals and how they fit in with overall company objectives will give you a better idea of what your budget needs to be before you discuss a PR agency contract.

Your schedule: This is especially important for time-sensitive initiatives. If you have a new product launch or special event, you must allow enough time for your PR firm to do the job correctly. When negotiating a PR agency contract, this is something to keep in mind.

Your expectations: Don’t expect to hire a PR firm today and have your company appear on the front page of the Wall Street Journal tomorrow. Consider this: The stories you see in the major magazines on the newsstand this month were probably written two or three months ago. If it’s not related to breaking news, many news outlets require several months of lead time.

Acquiring earned media or fixing a damaged reputation takes having the right connections and telling your story effectively to your targeted audiences. Other services, such as spokesperson training or special projects, also take considerable effort and time. Remember this when the time comes to discuss the length of a PR contract.

Things to look out for:

  • Beware of PR firms that try to immediately lock you into multi-year contracts.

  • Avoid PR agencies that make lofty promises or far-fetched guarantees.

  • Watch out for companies that try to pull a bait-and-switch routine. It’s great to meet the presidents and CEOs, but be sure you’re also introduced to the people who will be performing the daily work on your account.

Things to expect from Axia

PR is a long-term endeavor. At Axia, we offer our services annually, though some clients prefer and negotiate three-year deals with us. Additionally, to make sure there’s a good fit between our agency and your company, we offer a six-month trial before we enter a one-year or multi- year agreement.

When you do sign a contract with Axia, you can expect professionalism, persistence and accountability. Register today for our 60-Second Impact program to learn how we can achieve results for your company.


Lisa Goldsberry is a writer for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business, higher education and technology PR. Connect with Axia Public Relations on Twitter @axiapr.

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Topics: public relations

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