How to Hire a Publicist

How to Hire a Publicist. Polish your image by hiring an expert in public relations. Whether you're in the business world or in front of Hollywood's cameras, it's helpful to have a publicist when the press calls. This pro can protect your reputation and advance your career.

Find a public relations firm that specializes in the particular business or industry to meet your needs. The Council of Public Relations "Find-A-Firm" database identifies PR firms that might fit your company.

Determine a budget and amount of time you can afford to employ the publicists. When funds are limited, eliminate high profile firms or do a cost-benefit anaylsis.

Meet with your prospective publicists. Give them background information about the company. Explain the goals to the publicist you hope to achieve. Interview the publicists to learn about their professional history, reputation in the industry, successes and media contacts. Find out how many clients they have that have the same profile as you or your company. Hire someone who understands your industry. A high-powered publicist with a client list of professional athletes might not be the publicist for a novelist or the CEO of an appliance company.

Get complete histories from the publicists. Ask to see any campaigns and PR placements they have executed in the past year. Also ask to see any campaigns and placements they've overseen for clients or companies that fit the same profile as you. Ask about their contacts in the various media. If you want to do TV or radio, have them specify any recent bookings they've made in those venues. Ask them to name shows. A booking on Oprah is much more impressive than getting someone booked on a local cable TV talk show (although that also can have a value).

Entertain proposals. The publicist should present a sample campaign. See how well each publicist sells your own product or story. Ask common and difficult questions that you would expect to hear from people interested in your product. If the publicists cannot sell you on you or your product, he can't sell either to the public. Gauge the publicist's ability to handle pressure and questioning.

Negotiate the terms of an agreement and sign a contract. Define the level of saturation you expect the publicist to achieve. Set measurable benchmarks that allow you to terminate the agreement if they are not met. Or sign for a brief trial period, say 3 months, with a 6-month option based on performance. The contract should stipulate that you alone will decide whether to pick up the option.

Tips

  • Don't limit yourself to publicists with offices in your area. You can find someone equally effective based 1,000 miles away. Focus on whether this person knows your industry and has the contacts to do the job.

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