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Public relations agencies need strong marketing strategies to succeed, whether you’re planning to start a public relations consulting business, starting a boutique PR firm, or seeking to grow your established agency to the enterprise level.
Opportunity calls for PR businesses: the industry is worth $14 billion annually, and employs 92,000 people between 44,000 companies. A renewed focus on reaching digital influencers in addition to traditional media members makes for heavy competition between public relations agencies. You can get more than your fair share of the PR pie with a strategic marketing plan designed to motivate customers to choose your firm.
The following PR firm marketing advice will help you attract more clients, increase revenue for your firm, boost your brand recognition and, ultimately, profits.
If you’re in the startup phase of your PR agency, you should begin by defining what type of public relations firm you’re going to start. You could be a jack-of-all-trades PR firm, an agency that focuses on nonprofits or large companies, or a company that provides PR for book authors and publishers.
Choosing a niche can make it easier to focus your marketing efforts and reach well-targeted customers with a strong message that motivates response.
Entrepreneur states that start-up costs for a public relations agency range from $2,000 to $10,000. Of course, if you’re going to be a solo PR consultant working from home, your startup costs could be limited to some business cards, a brochure, and a LinkedIn account.
If you’ll have a formal office, basic needs include a computer system, software, phone, office furniture and supplies, and business filing fees. Beyond that, public relations firms rely on highly skilled, creative labor, so start-up costs will depend on whether you plan to hire employees.
To determine your start-up costs, you’ll need to create a business plan. A good business plan will help you identify what type of public relations business you want to start, how and where you will operate, and project expenses and revenue.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average hourly wage for a public relations specialist is $31.99, or $66,540 annually. PR Week states that public relations agency owners can make between $142,500 and $234,500 per year. Mplans lists billing rates for different PR employees. An intern or junior executive bills at around $75 per hour, a senior account executive bills from $125 to $200 per hour. Small PR shops or self-employed specialists typically charge $50 to $100 per hour. According to Mustr, retainer fees charged range between $2,000 monthly for a boutique PR agency and $20,000 monthly for a big name PR agency – and the largest PR firms make $500 million per year or more. Of course, some PR firms fail.
Freelance PR specialist $66,540
PR agency owner $142,500 to $243,500
Large PR agency $1 million to $500 million
You can vastly increase your chances for success with a strategic marketing plan, and that starts with branding your PR firm.
Public relations agencies have a unique challenge when it comes to marketing. They need to not only market themselves, they also need to do it in a way that cleverly demonstrates what they can do for clients. Your public relations agency will benefit tremendously if you can establish a well-known brand that is easily recognizable to potential clients.
Branding is vital to public relations agency success because it is precisely what your clients expect you to do for them. Your goal is to effectively communicate your clients' positive messages to the public at-large, to introduce new products, hires and milestones, and on occasion to handle damage control. All of this is part of a broader effort to brand. If you can show that you can do it better than your competitors, your clients will trust that you can likewise help them beat their competition.
To identify what your public relations agency brand image should be, you need to consider what benefits you provide to your clients that your competition lacks. Do you specialize in a specific area, such as food and beverage, the manufacturing industry, corporate relations, or even damage control?
Maybe you offer the fastest response time or boast an impressive portfolio of powerful clients or celebrities. Whatever it is that you do better than your competition, and the value that this act provides to your clients, coupled with your mission and philosophy, becomes your brand.
Skilled graphic design can transform your public relations agency's branded identity from a written concept to a visual motivator. This image is what the world will see, and your clients will perceive the ideals and emotions that your image expresses.
Your brand assets should include a logo, brand colors, selected fonts, a style guide, and anything else that defines how your brand is communicated and displayed.
Potential clients will see your brand and instantly know what you stand for and who you serve. When potential clients see your brand and trust that you have their best interests at heart, you've developed a powerful public relations agency brand identity.
No company knows better than a public relations agency how important it is to remain visible and positive in the public eye. The best way to demonstrate your ability to do this for your clients is by being visible yourself. Here are the essential marketing tools your public relations agency needs to be successful in today's competitive environment.
Every PR pro needs business cards, which are perfect for sharing contact details at networking events, inserting into direct-mailers, and leaving in strategic places potential clients are likely to see them. Show off your branding prowess by printing ultra business cards , which feature an attractive strip of edge color on triple-thick paper stock.
Design your own public relations agency business cards fast, easy, and free with our business templates and online design tool.
One of the best ways to enhance your credibility as a PR firm is to print a guide on how to manage public relations. Give it away to clients and potential clients, and include references to your agency throughout.
Your custom brochure details what you do, how you do it, and why prospects need to hire you to help their public image. Depending on your range of services, you might print multiple brochures: one for corporate clients, for example, and another for nonprofits.
Print postcards and send them to businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations that need PR services. You can use the mailing list tools at PsPrint to develop a list based on business demographics such as industry, number of employees, job title, and more. Consider edge-colored ultra postcard printing to make your postcards pop.
Create custom PR firm postcards online with our free postcard templates and online design tool. Upload your own logo and images now.
Print wall or desk calendars to distribute to prospects via direct mail. Feature a PR tip or client showcase/case study each month to demonstrate how you can help enhance brand reputation with a dedicated public relations strategy.
Print a monthly or quarterly newsletter packed with pro PR tips and send them to a targeted mailing list comprised of businesses and nonprofits. Pepper the content with mentions of your PR agency and include ads and calls-to-action for free consultations.
Polish your professional presentation with a corporate identity package that includes an introduction letter (on company letterhead), sales sheets or flyers that list your services and benefits, your business card, memo pads/notepads, and your brochure, all neatly placed in a well-branded pocket folder.
Create a website and engage in email marketing as well as social marketing efforts, particularly on business-oriented sites such as LinkedIn. Launch a blog and engage in guest posts to expand your reach.
Great PR people know that language and the way it is communicated dictates public perception, so mastering the powers of incredible copywriting is crucial. Here are some top PR agency copywriting tips you can use to make your marketing tools more meaningful to prospects.
Command attention for your PR firm with a will-crafted headline that highlights a key benefit and/or a special offer.
Your copy should showcase what you bring to the table that your clients can’t do on their own, and that your competitors can’t provide. Are you the most experienced, the fastest, the cheapest? Do you deliver guaranteed press coverage? No matter what it is, pick your niche and stick with it.
For the maximum possible return on investment, send direct-marketing mailers with a fantastic offer. You might offer discounted services, a free trial, or a guaranteed media placement, for example. Make your offer time-limited to encourage rapid response.
Deliver a compelling call to action and give potential clients several clear ways to contact you (visit your website, make a phone call, visit your office) to take advantage of your incredible offer.
As a public relations professional, you understand that visibility is key to your clients' success. Visibility is likewise critical to your own success. If you want your firm to grow, you need to treat it just as you would treat a client's business. Continually market your services through strategic distribution, and you'll vastly increase your chances of building a sustainable reputation as a premier agency in your public relations niche.
Direct-mail marketing is a powerful way to reach potential clients with a pitch for your PR services. Postcards, brochures, sales letters, and more contribute to a series of strategic mailings that can establish trust and credibility, build relationships, and influence action.
Repetition is key to direct-mail success; instead of sending a one-off postcard, develop a dedicated campaign in which you deploy multiple direct-mailers over a defined period of time.
Month 1: Send a letter of introduction; follow up with a personal phone call
Month 2: Send a postcard that asks if your prospects are getting the press coverage they want, and delivers an exclusive offer
Month 3: Send a booklet or newsletter packed with PR tips prospects can use to get media coverage, and add in your own offers
Month 4: Send a follow-up brochure or another postcard, this time with a different offer; follow up with another phone call
Take out ads in targeted publications, both online and off. Business magazines and journals, blogs, and websites are good places to start. Seek out opportunities on LinkedIn and other business-oriented social sites. For outdoor marketing, place banners and billboards in prominent business districts. Make sure your brochures are in racks at local Chambers of Commerce and Convention/Visitors bureaus. Attend trade shows, where you can hand out business cards, brochures, and other collateral to interested parties.
Following up is integral to good PR, and the same holds true for marketing your PR agency. Use the Three T’s to craft powerful campaigns with predictable, profitable results over time.
Test multiple versions of your marketing materials against sub-segments of your mailing list
Track which versions perform best, and send those to your larger audience
Tweak future campaigns based on your results
Try these creative public relations agency marketing ideas and resources to boost your visibility and profitability this year:
If you have a high-profile client, see if you can negotiate a life performance or other event sponsored by your PR firm. Or, host a PR for business/nonprofit seminar and invite targeted prospects. You will have an engaged audience that’s receptive to your pitch.
Work with your best clients to develop case studies that demonstrate how you’re able to help them achieve success. Promote them online and in booklets, brochures, and newsletters.
Always collect clips when you get press coverage for your clients. Feature them in your corporate identity package, brochure, booklets, and online.
Celebrities and high-profile business clients can enhance visibility and acceptance, especially if you represent them. Take opportunities to have your clients espouse the virtues of working with you in your own advertisements.
Here are a few links to public relations agency marketing resources you can use to bolster business.
Full-service discount printing, direct mailing, and mailing list generation.
A network of PR professionals, educational resources, and other tools you can use to market your business and hone your craft for success.
Similar to the SRSA, but on an international level.
Many states have their own public relations associations with tools and resources that you can take advantage of. Run an online search for your state's associations to see what is available in your region.