PR: Finding the Right Fit

This post was contributed by publicist, Diana Barton.
All thoughts, experiences and opinions are her own.

Publicists can be a huge asset to small businesses, providing services that a business owner may not have the time, knowledge or connections to be able to execute on his or her own. PR services are a commitment of both money and time, but if you find the right fit and learn how to best work with your team the results can be well worth the financial obligation, plus more. Before taking the plunge, consider the following practices in your search for the right fit. 

Shop around.
Like any industry, there are different types of business models and structures out there in the realm of PR. Ranging from the larger, traditional and more corporate firms, to smaller boutique agencies specializing in niche industries to freelance consultants working for themselves, each model offers a unique set of benefits and resources. Take the time to meet with a variety of folks in the field to find the right fit to meet your needs. 

Know what you’re looking for.  
Take some time to understand exactly with the practice of public relations means and be clear on the specific types of support you’re looking for. According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), “public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” PR services range from traditional media relations to social media management, content production and event planning, and each agency or consultant will offer a different combination of services so be sure to get a clear scope of work before moving forward. 

Rely on client testimonials and case studies. 
The best recommendation you can get for PR services will come from current clients and peers in your industry. Once you know what you’re looking for, ask around for some feedback on specific the firms or individuals with whom you’re meeting. Ask the firm for client testimonials and case studies that are relevant to your industry and needs to get a sense of its capabilities and results.    

Think of PR as an extension of your business. 
To be successful, your public relations team must fully understand your business, the story you want to tell and the obstacles that need to be overcome. Find the person or team that feels like the best fit regarding personality, industry knowledge, communication practices and ethics. You’re looking for an addition to your core team, someone you believe will help your business grow and prosper and see as a valuable addition to your company. 

These tips are a combination of practices I have learned from my experiences as a public relations specialist and researching what others recommend. You can find some of my inspiration here, here and here. And for a full definition of public relations, check out this literature from the PRSA. 

Diana Barton works as a publicist in Nashville, Tennessee, specializing in hospitality and restaurant public relations as an account executive at Bread & Butter PR. She is led by her passion for restaurants and food, working closely with some of Nashville’s best chefs and leading the Middle Tennessee chapter of Slow Food USA. She can usually be found wandering the farmers market, geeking out over Nashville’s best restaurants, cheering for the Vols and hanging out with her pup, Maddie.