Bringing on a public relations (PR) firm can be a pivotal moment for consumer brands looking to increase visibility, amplify their message, and connect with target audiences. However, the first 90 days with a new PR partner are critical for laying the groundwork for a successful long-term relationship.
As a consumer product or online retailer, having clear expectations and closely collaborating with your PR firm during this honeymoon period can determine whether your partnership thrives or falters.
Below is an overview of what you can expect and how to make the most out of the initial 90 days.
Month 1: Building Relationships and Strategizing
The first 30 days are all about forging connections – both with media and influencers and also internally between your team and the PR firm. Outreach and relationship building takes time, though, so temper expectations for early major media wins. However, you should see the start of conversations with reporters and bloggers.
Your PR firm will also invest significant effort into deeply understanding your brand, products, vision, and goals. With your input, they will start crafting a strategic PR plan tailored to your specific business objectives and targeted audiences.
Expect to have regular touchpoints to review goals, media targets, messaging frameworks, and early opportunities. This collaboration is essential for aligning priorities from the start of the project.
Month 2: Generating Buzz and Momentum
By the second month, your PR team will leverage the relationships and strategy work done in month one to start securing media placements. The quantity will depend on your brand’s stage, but you should anticipate initial coverage from relevant online publications and blogs.
Your PR firm may also leverage tools like media databases to identify high-potential journalists and outlets. Pitching focused story angles aligned with your brand to these targets can yield media interest.
Ongoing monitoring and reporting provide insights into how your messaging resonates. Your PR team will guide you on how messaging may need to be tweaked or new approaches are needed. Continued outreach will expand your brand’s media network.
Month 3: Honing Strategy and Planning Ahead
At the three-month mark, you have an opportunity to review the partnership so far. What’s working well and what could improve? Provide candid feedback to further refine the strategy.
With a solid media base and strategy in place, this stage is ideal for planning ahead. Work with your PR firm to map out target publications, identify relevant conferences or events, and brainstorm creative campaigns that will magnify your brand throughout the year.
The end of the first 90 days also marks a transition. While you established your PR foundation, long-term consistency is now key. Ongoing cultivation of media relationships, targeted outreach and compelling storytelling will drive brand growth for months and years to come.
The early relationship (honeymoon) period sets the trajectory for your brand’s PR success. Entering the relationship with clear milestones and close collaboration empowers your new PR partner to deliver meaningful results right out of the gate. Maintain open communication, provide feedback, and think long-term, and your first 90 days will become the springboard that propels your brand to new heights.
10 Tips to Choose the Right PR Firm
Here are 10 tips to help your business choose a high-quality PR and communications strategy firm.
SEEK OUT EXPERIENCE
Look for experience working with brands in your industry, or even knowledge or experience working in your industry. An expert will understand how your specific market works and is an invaluable partner and ally.
CASE STUDIES AND CLIENT RESULTS
Review case studies and client results – Evaluate measurable outcomes like increased media impressions, website traffic growth, and sales lift. Keep in mind that PR clients may not share sales data due to the confidential or highly competitive nature of this information.
TACTICAL BEATS ‘SPRAY & PRAY’
Ensure your partner is looking at strategic thinking beyond tactical execution. Strategy should tie back to your brand and business goals. If a PR firm is talking about pushing out press releases, that’s a red flag. Press releases as a PR strategy have not worked for over a decade, and it can hurt both search ranking and brand visibility because search engines like Bing and Google de-rank duplicate content.
ALIGN CULTURE AND VALUES
Examine company culture and values. Look for a partner aligned with your brand identity and voice, so that you’re not struggling with ethical differences.
DATA DRIVES ROI
Seek our partners who want to take a data-driven approach. Analytics, reporting, and optimization should inform strategy.
Assess media and influencer relationships. Are they talking about pitching low-level influencers, or actual journalists with trade media or top-tier consumer outlets? Strong connections can open doors for your brand.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Expect regular communication, but don’t micro manage conversations. Ongoing collaboration is essential for PR success.
SET REASONABLE BUDGETS
Discuss budget needs and ROI with reasonable expectations. Balance desired outcomes with affordable investment. A PR firm with experience landing top-tier national media outlets will not operate at the same level or price as a freelancer and will produce substantially higher quality placements that can increase web traffic and inbound SEO, and build search ranking, credibility, and visibility that will grow your brand.
PARTNERSHIPS AND POSITIVE FIT
Trust your gut feeling during the selection process. If promises sound too good to be true, they probably are. There’s no guarantee of placement in PR, but the value on the other side (vs. advertising and placement costs) can produce incredible results.