Have you been thinking about how to fire your PR firm?
Maybe you’re just not enjoying as much earned media coverage and other results as you did at the beginning of the relationship. Maybe you’re not receiving or sensing the same passion, progress and updates from your public relations firm. Maybe it’s the chemistry, or you just can’t pinpoint exactly why you’re not happy with your public relations firm.
Your relationship with your public relations firm is critical to your success in earning media coverage. Media coverage is critical to promoting your brand and increasing your sales, so a bad relationship with your public relations firm can directly impact sales and your earnings.
When the relationship is starting to sour, here are the steps you should take:
Give it enough time
If you haven’t been with your PR firm for more than 90-180 days, it may be premature to have concerns. It can take 90 days just to develop initial results and establish initial chemistry. You are merging two different cultures into one initiative. The PR firm’s ideas, relationships and know-how are the reason you hired them. You need them, and they need you. Give the firm that you found to be the experts the opportunity to do what they do best.
Set measurable objectives
If measurable objectives have not been set by your public relations firm or you didn’t let your PR firm set objectives earlier, this is the time to request them. Ask your public relations firm for the results you should expect in 30 days.
If you’re dissatisfied with your public relations firm, tell them! Call your public relations firm’s point of contact and set up an in-person meeting. Be prepared to lay out your expectations and detail the specific actions or results that you are not seeing. It could be that focus has become lax, but that this is still the best public relations firm for your company. Airing your expectations will give the firm an opportunity to respond by generating new ideas, setting up interviews and jump-starting results, including earned media coverage. After 30 days have passed, call another meeting with the public relations firm to review the results or lack thereof.
Alert senior leadership
If that doesn’t work or you only see a short-term impact, meet with the public relations firm’s branch manager, owner, principal or president. Get senior leadership involved. Let them know that your PR firm account is at risk, and they are on notice. If after that meeting the results are still not meeting your expectations, it’s time to:
Fire your public relations firm
If you have decided to fire your public relations firm, take the steps that will make your attorney happy. Review the written contract you currently have with your public relations firm for an opt-out option or termination clause. What does yours say? If you are required to give 30 days’ written notice to end the relationship, this is the time to provide that notification. If there is no termination clause, call another meeting with your public relations firm’s principal to discuss a happy parting. If you’ve followed these steps, they shouldn’t be too surprised – you’ve given them plenty of notice.
The next step after firing your public relations firm is to find the firm that can best help you earn news media coverage. Seek your next and best public relations firm by identifying firms that are able to offer exposure on the level you seek – local, regional and national. Once you’ve identified your next public relations partner, plan ahead with a termination clause or opt-out option in the contract. Most importantly, identify agreed-upon measurable objectives and hold your public relations firm accountable with monthly meetings. It’s important to allow your PR firm to have a voice, based on their experience and past results, and to collaborate with you on setting these important expectations based on a specific timeline and tied to what moves your business. You’ll be on your way to outstanding media coverage with your new public relations firm.