Oftentimes startups rely on either marketing or PR to expand their reach, drive sales, and increase brand awareness. But in order to truly maximize a company’s growth and digital presence–and ultimately strengthen the bottom line–there needs to be a healthy balance of both marketing and PR in the overall communications strategy. 

When tasked with all of these goals, it’s your job as a marketing leader to determine the best ways to achieve them. This includes the decision of whether or not to outsource the work involved in a comprehensive communications plan, specifically PR if you don’t already have someone on the team who’s dedicated to earned media. 

There are several ways a PR firm can help your company, but providing their earned media expertise is often the most valuable. If you’re interested in partnering with a PR team, here are a few things marketing leaders should consider when hiring a PR firm.

Determine goals 

Before you hire a PR firm, determine what your current marketing goals are and how they align with the company’s goals and mission. Having a clear understanding of the current goals can help you determine how exactly a sound PR plan can assist with reaching these goals. Be prepared to share these goals with the incoming PR team so they can align their communication strategy with the overall objectives. 

Let go of preconceptions 

If you’re considering hiring a PR firm, then you likely understand the value that an outside PR team can bring to the company. But there’s still a chance that you have preconceptions about PR and its role in the overall marketing strategy. Before you can successfully work with a PR firm, it’s important to let go of traditional views and start the relationship off with a clean slate. 

The long-held belief has been that PR and marketing are separate entities. Each operates as its own department, has separate goals, and uses entirely different avenues to achieve those goals. But over the years, thanks to the evolution of the digital landscape, the line between PR and marketing has been blurred and the two often see a lot of overlap in their initiatives.  

When working with a PR firm, be prepared to integrate your marketing efforts with their communications efforts. And, most importantly, be open to the ideas they can bring to the table. Not only are they experts in PR, but as someone who’s outside of the organization, a PR firm can bring with them a fresh perspective. 

Integrate the messaging 

While marketing and PR teams may apply different tactics, the overall goal should be the same. This also goes for the messaging. Make sure that the message your marketing team has developed for paid and owned media channels can also be applied to earned media. Without a cohesive message across all platforms, you risk confusing–or worse, losing–potential customers and stakeholders. However, a unified message can increase the effectiveness of the campaign which leads to a greater chance of achieving the campaign objectives. 

Monitor the data

A fully integrated campaign works best when both marketing and PR initiatives are monitored together. When done properly, paid, owned, and earned media work together to drive positive results for a campaign. For example, press mentions can help drive traffic to the company’s website which ultimately leads potential customers to the brand’s owned content. Similarly, paid media can increase the brand’s exposure which results in higher engagement and reach.

Because each of these channels brings value not only on its own but to the campaign as a whole, it’s important to track all components of a campaign after launching. Doing so provides insight into how each of them are boosting one another. 

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