I run a UK based jewellery company specialising in bridal jewellery. We have a turnover of circa £4m per annum. We advertise using Adwords, Youtube, and run active facebook campaign. However, we don't do any proper PR activity, so it is an obvious gap in our marketing strategy. I realise I could engage a PR agency, or I could advertise in the PR press and look to employ our own PR person. However, I am not clear on what my PR 'objectives' should be. I also don't know what a good result would look like, or how much I realistically need to budget for. So far, I have been skeptical of the value of PR. Realistically, we are not Coca-Cola or Panasonic, and I am not sure I have the appetite to afford the size of campaign to try to build a large scale 'brand'. Hence to date, I have focused on direct response marketing with adwords etc. Some possible avenues which might work and which I would include in the PR category is; * Celebrity endorsements * Featured products in bridal magazines * Press releases (I realise these don't generally work) * Events * Local awareness campaign in local papers As you can see, I am bit confused on the best way forward. So I am looking for an expert in PR, who I can pay to give me some guidance on this topic. Once I find a PR expert I can trust, I would like to discuss with the the following questions; i) Can PR generate a measurable increase in sales for our business type and niche? ii) What is the minimum amount I should budget to test if it works? iii) Should I employ somebody or use an agency? iv) What is the right PR strategy I should set from the start Thanks for reading!
Quick stream of consciousness note to help out:
As a marketing "generalist" with strong PR leanings - most of my clients come to me for PR but then find additional (greater?) value me for marketing advice, social media (which really, along with influencer partnerships is becoming part of PR), tradeshow support, strategic partnership brokering, etc. - I, of course, am biased. But I've also hired (and fired) many PR agencies in my career before I joined them.
Starting out, I would go with a part-time consultant. Find someone that is truly passionate about your field and has experience with placing stories in a similar line of business as yours. I personally prefer a small boutique agency or even individual that offers more than just PR services. (Bonus - if you find someone really great, you might later be able to bring them in-house or hire them exclusively.)
Make sure you check out their social media, some of their past press releases and - most importantly - stories they have placed on behalf of other clients. If the tone, positioning or feel isn't somewhat aligned with yours - you will likely not mesh and achieve poor results. i.e., too boring, too formal, to irreverent, too immature, too old school, no apparent recent experience with your core audience or the outlets that write/cover your industry.
Get some references as well and contact past or present clients (with verifiable coverage out there).
I'd say reasonable budgets, based on U.S. prices, should be doable starting from $4-7.5K a month, maybe even a bit less if you're a strong negotiator.
You could also shoot for a base retainer and a contingent portion where you set certain goals each month and if those are met, there's an additional kicker to the compensation. That will help you find the more entrepreneurial (and hungry) agencies. i.e. x articles published with outlets reaching > x subscribers or viewers, obtain x mentions from x social media influencers with x or more followers, etc. Spitballing, you'll need to define your own, but involve the consultant in the process and ask them what they think is reasonable, then have them put some skin in the game with an upside if they do great.
Keep in mind, though, that external PR folks will not be able to fabricate newsworthy stories for you. They can help you in the process and use their established contacts to open the doors, but they will not know your product well enough without your close collaboration. Clients that expect the PR folks to sort of live on an island (no pun intended) and generate press will be very disappointed.
Chemistry is also quite important. I would say within three months, perhaps even a bit less, you should be able to tell if you are happy with the results. Talk about metrics, talk about what your realistic expectation should be so you can decide if that's a better investment than a similar marketing spend. But unless it's a complete failure, be a little patient, PR is not direct marketing.
Hope that's helpful and best of luck. Looks like you're off to a great start! I personally really only handle video games, technology, and eSports, but if you need help, I can probably refer you to a couple of good people here in the U.S. that may be a good fit.
If you have peers in the industry, also ask for recommendations to PR folks they love. Stay away from big agencies unless you have deep pockets and avoid press release mills where they will send out your press releases for a flat fee. That's not PR, that's annoying direct mail aimed at editors, a good way to burn bridges before you even get out of the PR gate.