The One Thing That Matters Most When Hiring A PR Firm

There is only one word that matters most when hiring a PR firm: EXPERIENCE.

Why PR Experience Matters

Our PR firm has been in business for more than 20 years and, at the onset, we hired our share of interns, newbies and people fresh out of school who wanted to work their way up the corporate ladder. No more. After only two years in business, Porter PR & Marketing found that nothing matches the results of getting media coverage for clients than an experienced crew. While we enjoy giving newbies with a certain amount of knowledge and determination a place to begin their career, working with the media is not a good starting point. We discovered that skill, determination, education and creativity does not take the place of experience when it comes to public relations, especially within the highly-specialized arena of media relations. Of all marketing areas of expertise, working with the media to get clients press coverage for their products, services or as a company is the one specialization where experience matters most. When a company becomes dissatisfied with their PR firm, it affects all PR agencies. To do our job right and prove our worth, for the past 17 years we have made it our policy that our public relations team consists only of highly-qualified skilled professionals with a minimum of 10 years of experience. Why? Let’s break it down.

What the Media Expects from a Public Relations Professional

It goes without saying, working with the media requires excellent writing skills as does any form of communications. But when your audience is comprised of the most highly critical writing experts known i.e. reporters and editors, communications with them must be perfect. The key is to write in journalistic style without any errors. It must catch the reporter’s or editor’s attention immediately. It then must pass the test of newsworthiness and timeliness.

But writing the perfect press release isn’t just about organizing thoughts and words correctly; it’s about knowing what that specific media outlet wants on that day and time, and how it wants it delivered. This is the first instance where experience comes in. It takes years of working with various media from top-tier newspapers to trade journals that cover a variety of industries from construction to technology, to understand their intricacies and inner workings that could create barriers to getting a company the press coverage it deserves. While much is dependent upon knowing how and when to send out a press release, this is only a fraction of what PR professionals need to know. It’s time to analyze why so many press releases get ignored and end up posted on the company’s website when they are worthy of being a published as a news article in a newspaper, trade magazine or business journal.

Mutual Trust Between Experienced Public Relations Experts at a PR Firm and The Media

Even the most well-written press releases often get ignored because reporters and editors just don’t have time to read them all. Hundreds land in their email boxes every day. This is where experience reigns again. The media is much more likely to open an email sent from a trusted source before even considering one sent from a newbie. It’s not because the press wants to ignore newbies, but if a reporter or editor has been working with a PR professional they know they can trust to give them what they need along with solid supporting facts and the appropriate artwork, odds are, the email will get opened and read. Plus, after working successfully with the same PR expert in the past they know their stories are likely to be newsworthy and naturally would want to learn more to see if it has the potential to become a featured article. Long-term experience working with reporters and editors creates a mutually trusting relationship. This is the most obvious, yet least practiced rule-of-thumb many PR firms implement.

Looking Beyond the PR Expert

Reporters and editors often look beyond the individual PR professional as a trusted resource. They look to the PR firm itself. Years of working with a PR firm at which its team has consistently provided reporters and editors with professionals who know what they are doing, further boosts a good working relationship with the media. And it’s not to say that reporters and editors of every media outlet will know the names of all PR professionals, but after years of working with the same PR firm that has consistently provided solid information that can be backed up by fact, the company becomes branded with the media as a PR firm it can trust. That is why it is so important that the job of working with the media is given only to experienced media relations professionals. Porter PR & Marketing stands firm on ensuring that only experienced public relations experts work with the media.

You Only Get One Shot

The person pitching to the media only has one shot at getting a story covered. Reporters typically answer their phone if they recognize the caller. Getting a phone call back from a reporter is another rarity that is typically granted to public relations professionals that have nurtured their relationships with that reporter or editor, or if the call is from a PR firm recognized as a trusted source. Once the reporter or editor answers, even the best of us are allotted only a few seconds of their time to make a pitch to capture their attention. Give this task to a newbie or intern and most likely you have thrown away the only chance you will ever have to get that particular reporter to write the story. This is where experience has such a high value in the PR world. Too many a PR firm make pitching to the press a job for the newbie or intern because it is the toughest job of all. This is why so many companies get fed up with public relations firms that should, but don’t, produce real news stories. So, where is the value in that? There isn’t any.

So, for all the companies that feel like they didn’t get what they wanted from their PR firm, we have one suggestion. Understand that the PR firm with skilled people working for them is one thing, but experience is everything. Do your homework and find out the backgrounds of the team members that will be representing your firm to the media. You’re not just hiring a company; you’re hiring a team. And they need to be experienced.

Here is an article you will want to read on how our PR firm gets companies in the news.