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When to DIY and when to hire a PR professional

It’s a question I often hear: ‘should I hire a PR agency or can I do my own PR’?

The way I think about it is that it’s like any task in your business.  If you enjoy it, if you’re good at it and have time to do it, then do it yourself.  If you don’t, don’t.

So, whilst I’m ok with maths and money, I’m no expert in VAT or corporation tax and I loathe reading about it.  So, I hired a fabulously skilled accountant to do it for me.  If I need outstanding design or professional print work doing, I outsource it.

It’s about knowing what is realistic for you and your business.

DIY PR

You may choose to do your own PR and this is usually the best option for micro-businesses with tight budgets.

If your business is just getting started and you can’t afford to hire a PR company, you can do some elements of PR on your own – and you can do them well.

Indeed, you know your business inside-out and can bring the best insights. There are a lot of free resources out there that you can read up on for tips and information to get you going.

Be creative and you will get attention.

Start by following the mantra: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

Spend time understanding your audiences and what they need. Then think about what you want to achieve, what story you are going to tell and what you hope to get out of it.

Tell your business story – as though you were speaking to a member of your family or a friend in the pub.

When you’re ready to start your media relations, do the groundwork by getting to know the publications and journalists you want to reach. Find out what they’re looking for and provide it by tweaking your own news stories to match.

It may not be as simple as it sounds, but if you have the time, the skills and the inclination, you can achieve great results.

HIRE A PR PROFESSIONAL

Yes, it costs money but what you also get is peace of mind, freedom and your time back to focus on other aspects of your company and doing the things you love.

Media relations professionals have a little black book of contacts and established relationships they can tap into to make the job easier.  They also can spot angles, knockout pitches and write copy much quicker than you probably can.

PR professionals can also help organise events and tackle crisis management. If your company is big enough that bad publicity would make headlines — or if you’ve just had a public screw-up — a professional can get you out of the swamp.

If you’re not ready to work with an agency full-time, hire a boutique agency or freelancer on a project-by-project basis.

If you choose to hire any PR professional, get referrals, ask for written proposals and speak to their existing clients.  And make sure you see examples of previous work.

Don’t be bamboozled by BS; let the evidence speak for itself.

ADD A PR PERSON TO YOUR TEAM

If you have a stable budget, you may choose to hire someone in-house to do it for you.  You could also try employing a paid intern as a risk-free way to see if this is the right route for you.

When hiring a PR professional, look for strong written and oral communications skills; problem-solving and analytical abilities; ability to manage multiple projects and adjust priorities at short-notice; both strategic and technical skills; and attention to detail.

Softer skills that help include creativity; diplomacy; curiosity; empathy; boundless patience and a huge sense of humour.

Above all, look for passion for the job.  Having created many teams over the years, I strongly believe you can teach someone the fundamentals of PR but you can’t teach them passion.

This applies to whichever route you choose.  Whether it’s you doing it, an agency, a freelancer or someone in your team – having a passion for the job means you get the best results and achieve your PR goals.

Are you an innovative start-up or solopreneur who wants media coverage?

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PR support can be costly for small businesses so, get my free practical tips for getting in the press.

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