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Firing your PR firm: How to move on after cutting ties

By Wendy Bulawa Agudelo

23337220_sSo you hired a PR firm to help you increase mindshare surrounding your product, service or business and weren’t satisfied. You were patient, played your cards right and communicated clearly with your PR team, but your results are still lackluster at best. If you’ve gone carefully through our checklist for evaluating your PR relationship and you still want to sever ties with your public relations agency, consider the following tips:

1. Read the contract and fine print. If your agency has constructed a legal contract, it’s important to review it in depth to understand opt-out and termination clauses. Most firms require a minimum of 30 days’ written notice, some as long as 90 days. If no official contract was signed (hopefully this isn’t the case) or if there’s no explanation surrounding termination, consider meeting with PR firm owners to arrange an amicable split.

2. Keep the separation professional. It’s completely professional (and appreciated) to let staff know if/that you were pleased with some of the work done. However, there is no need for parting gifts or hugs. Keep it professional and move forward. As a side note, it is inadvisable to attempt to poach your favorite team members from the agency in an effort to bring them in-house. Some businesses find gems within a PR agency team whom they believe would do a stellar job if they worked in-house. This is not the time to offer a job; nor is it the time to rant about all the things you feel the agency may have done poorly. The parting of ways is enough.

3. Determine your true need. Was the firm you hired actually ineffectual or is it just that a PR firm was unnecessary at this stage of your business game? PR firms are successful when they are able to collaborate with their clients to progress their overarching business goals. If there are no new goals, products, markets, industries, verticals or possibilities to reach, a PR firm is not a necessary asset … yet. Before hiring a new firm, consider your business needs. Then, if appropriate, research and select three firms to meet with and allow them an opportunity to pitch.

If you’ve determined that it’s time to let your PR firm go, download Axia Public Relations’ e-book How to Fire Your PR Firm. There, you’ll learn some key tips and thinking points that will smooth your path and more guidance on your next steps. If you’re ready to begin a new partnership, give us a call and we can get started.

Wendy Bulawa Agudelo has more than 15 years of experience in technology, business, consumer and non-profit public relations. In addition to serving on the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress PR Task Force, Wendy enjoys cooking and rooting for her favorite New England sports teams.

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Topics: public relations

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