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When to Use a PR Pro & How to Hire One
Ten questions to ask right up front.
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 by Pari Noskin Taichert
Bad Girls Press

Pari Noskin TaichertI happen to think most entrepreneurs (including artists and writers), small business owners and directors of nonprofits can be effective PR pros without hiring others to do the work for them.

However, there are times and reasons to hire outsiders.  One reason may be that you've got the personality of an eggplant.  Or, you're already overwhelmed with work and can't devote enough energy to create strong public relations plans or campaigns. In those cases, investing in a credible PR pro might be the thing to propel your business forward.  And the pro might help remind you that you, too, are doing PR by simply doing business.

Ask yourself these questions when interviewing a consultant:

1) Does this person listen to me and really answer my questions? You need someone who understands your needs and won't produce generic work for you.

2) Will I feel comfortable disclosing confidential information to her?  If the vibe isn't right, go no further.  In times of crisis, media frenzy, and strategic planning-you need to be able to (and should expect to) bare your soul to this trusted colleague.

3) Do I like this person? If you don't have an automatic positive response, I'd bid the applicant adieu.  There are other PR pros out there.

4) Does this person have a true big-picture approach? Avoid people who only talk about getting publicity.  Reminder:  publicity is free news coverage.  Your PR campaign should be multi-faceted and mindful of short-and long-term goals.

5) Can he communicate and write effectively?  Ask for samples and assess them critically. A biggie is making sure the writing is clear and compelling, not florid and self-impressed.

6) Does she have a creative spark? I've met PR folks who bore me to death.  Their work tends to have the same flaws.

7) Does he have useful media/business contacts for me?  My theory is that strong local and regional contacts pay off better than national ones. 

8) Can this person do the job? Get real references from people you respect.  If the candidate doesn't have a track record, make sure her writing, verbal communication and creative skills are top-notch.

9) Is this the person I'll work with or will I be shunted to someone else in the agency?  If you're considering an agency, look at this possibility seriously.  Some agencies have you interview with a high-powered performer and then hand your account to a less experienced (maybe better) worker for the nitty gritty stuff.

10) Does this person have a good sense of humor?  Okay, okay, this is one of my quirks.  But humor, especially in times of immense pressure or stress, is an important asset.

Remember, the PR pro works for you.  If you pay attention to these questions, you'll have a good shot at finding someone who'll help you turn your business dreams into reality.


Pari Noskin Taichert has worked in PR for eons.  Of course, she considers waitressing, selling textbooks, and belly dancing part of her PR experience. Her more traditional clients have included corporations, small businesses, nonprofit organizations, writers and artists.
Website: www.badgirlspress.com
Email: pari@badgirlspress.com





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