3 Questions to Ask to Identify If a Public Relations Consultant is Right for You

Public Relations (PR) plays a key function in a successful business. And for PR to be productive, you will need to trust more than friendship or basic instincts in choosing an ideal PR Consultant. 

The function of public relations cannot be handled just by your consultant or firm; it is a partnership between you and the PR experts. Your insight, input and perspective will provide your PR pro with the best direction and garner the best results. It requires an investment of time on your part -- phone calls, e-mails and meetings. For a great foundation, it's important you provide complete and updated information; spend time ideating with your consultant and staff; and review materials prepared by your PR person in a timely fashion. 

An apt definition of a great PR relationship is from the Counselors Academy of the Public Relations Society of America:

A successful relationship between client and public relations firm or counselor has as a fundamental: a match of capabilities and needs, a 100% agreement on objectives, constant and instant accessibility, full information sharing, interaction at all levels, regular updates as well as progress review, and a clear contractual agreement.

Here are three questions to ask to guide you to your next great PR relationship: 

Have you worked in my industry before? While many PR tactics apply across industries, a consultant with experience in yours will readily have examples of strategies known to work for your specific market. It makes a difference when your consultant understands your business thoroughly and can provide strategic counsel in addition to tactical support. 

What are our metrics of success? Study the proposals and ideas presented by your potential public relations consultant. Are the deliverables and promises clear and transparent? Before you sign the contract, discuss what success looks like. Often, with tactics such as media relations, there are no guarantees of coverage, but a consultant can help you set measurable objectives. 

How will we work together? Will you or someone else from your organization serve as the 'point-of-contact?' In addition to check-in meetings, are you expecting regular reports? As you brainstorm ideas, expect your consultant to contribute honest feedback and evidence-based insight. A dedicated professional will not hesitate to disagree with you on aspects that won't work. 

Asking these three questions are a great start to forming a rewarding relationship with a PR consultant.