Top PR firms share many of the same qualities. These traits set apart a pretty good firm from a great one, and they are things to look for when you are wanting to choose a public relations firm that will excel in promoting your business.
1. Solid Reputation
Top PR firms have a good reputation, both in the community and in media circles, brought on by years of experience. I don’t just mean hearing that so-and-so is a nice guy, but that reporters know they can count on certain firms to help produce an appealing news article or segment that the target public cares about.
Top public relations firms also know how to craft a story. They do not send out “fluff,” which can waste a journalist’s time and won’t get picked up anyway. On the contrary, these firms are experts in the skill of public relations and know what is newsworthy and relevant. The media is more receptive to pitches from a proven news source with a good reputation, and will in fact contact proven PR firms for possible stories.
2. Excellent Media Relations
Piggybacking on the above, a premier PR firm will have existing relationships with journalists, editors, producers, on-air talent, freelancers and other people in various media positions at multiple outlets. Great PR firms do their homework and create effective pitches that are tailored to the journalist and industry. They know who prefers to be emailed or tweeted or called. They know what makes an interesting TV segment or magazine article, and they present compelling pitches that get in front of the right people.
3. Proactive Partners
Top public relations firms work with their clients as full-on marketing partners, becoming an extension of the company and team. Plus, great PR firms are proactive and don’t wait to be told what to do. These firms constantly evaluate marketing components, determine what works and why, learn about new options, generate ideas and present new tactics to their clients. Proactivity and partnership are interdependent: the PR firm and company work together to form a powerful marketing force.
Top PR firms should be constantly learning and unafraid to try new tactics to generate results. That doesn’t mean being innovative just for the sake of being cool. But it means that PR firms adapt their services and offerings as markets and needs change.
4. Innovative Adaptability
Marketing needs change for multiple reasons – time of year, new and expanded products or services, emerging social media platforms, etc. Top PR firms should be constantly learning and unafraid to try new tactics to generate results. That doesn’t mean being innovative just for the sake of being cool. But it means that PR firms adapt their services and offerings as markets and needs change.
For example, many firms offer design services in addition to public relations, making them a full-service partner. It may involve incorporating digital marketing, social media advertising, inbound marketing, lead generation, word-of-mouth, new technology or whatever it takes to meet and exceed marketing goals.
5. Persuasive Communicators
This seems like a given, but it’s important to pay attention to how PR firms communicate. Top PR firms are able to convey ideas in a convincing manner, while customizing the viewpoint and style for each client as needed. Yet it’s more than just good storytelling. Being a skilled communicator also requires being disciplined, organized and detail-oriented. It means understanding what the client wants, taking complete notes and having a strategy for meeting the set goals, while following criteria from the media outlet and meeting deadlines. It means perseverance even when it’s difficult. All while wearing a smile.
6. Fierce Intelligence
The common required element in each of these listed traits is to have above-average intelligence. Beyond common sense, top PR firms have whip-smart people that can interpret data, see trends and know how and when to act on it.
Plus, they are constantly learning, taking in new information and growing in their knowledge base and profession. This also breeds creativity. Being able to use knowledge effectively leads to developing new and out-of-the-box ways to make things happen.
Top public relations firms have people that are passionate about what they do. This translates into a deep drive, enthusiastic desire and internal motivation to help their clients succeed. Passion elevates marketing experience, technical skill and all the other qualities to yield exceptional results.
Want to add to this list? Let me know in the comments section below.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in June 2013 and was updated in July 2018.