World has changed and evolved over time and so have media channels and role of PR agencies. Although some elements work the same, PR as whole has involved many new offerings.
You have found the perfect plan of starting a PR agency, and now you are ready to take the next steps.
But Starting an agency is not just about registering it with the state. There is a lot more to it.
We have put together a simple guide on starting and running a Public Relations agency. Before we start, let us understand some basics.
What Is Public Relations?
Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their public.
It can also be defined as the practice of managing communications between a company and its public.
Many people misunderstand PR. They assume that as PR agency your main role is to manage bad press and spin things to cover things up. But that is not the compelete picture, Public Relations is about sending the right message to the right people and the right place, creating a strong brand reputation.
Listed below are some roles of a PR agency.
Roles Of A PR Agency
Public Relations can help boost the reputation of a brand through owned, earned and paid communications
Essentially, A PR agency is a consultancy that gives its client sound communication advice. They maintain healthy relations with the media and follow back and build & sustain the relationship for future work.
You can find below some key roles that PR agencies play.
In todays digitized world taking a spin of things will not take you too far as people will post a counter view point immediatly. So role of a PR agency is about engaging with stakeholders to understand what they perceive the brand's reputation to be.
By understanding what they like and dislike about a brand can you come up with a solution.
As a PR agency you are documenting and establishing a direction for a business by assessing where they are and where they are going. Record your long-term goals and actions required to reach them.
Communication is the key. All the communications that you carry on behalf of the client should be consistent.
Nurturing your media relations will help you build a network for your client and keep you updated about the ongoing trends and developments.
A PR agency needs to communicate a new product launch or changes in branding or leadership.
See an example of how apple uses Press Release for launching its new features or introducing a new leadership.
Leverage event planning to market and promote your brand, MVP products, services. Planning an event around the same and inviting industry relevant people can create networking opportunities.
Here's an example of the launch event done by apple for iPhone 12 Pro
Everyone is digitally connected in today's world. PR Helps companies to create an effective online presence. Be where they are!
Social media, these days is a major factor that influences your brand reputation.
Using a social media marketing platform such as Statusbrew can help you manage multiple clients from a central dashboard with a unique workspace for each client and eliminate confusion.
You can manage complex workflows and every aspect of social media for all your clients from a single, easy-to-use interface.
If you'd like to try out Statusbrew for your business, you can sign up right now & start your free trial.
Statusbrew is an all-in-one social media management tool that supports Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, and even Google My Business.
The only way for a PR agency to successfully communicate and build relationship with the target audience is by understanding them. Use market research techniques such as market surveys, focus group discussions, feedback forms, etc.
Track, gather, and mine social data to assess a brand's reputation and discern how the brand is perceived online using Statusbrew.
PR agencies should have a process to deal with a disruptive and unexpected event that threatens to harm the organization's reputation or its stakeholders.
Steps To Start A PR Agency
Before involving your business resources, it is essential to plan out your business specifics, decide on both long and short term goals and discover the unknown scenarios.
Cost Involved In Opening A PR Agency
At first, Out-of-pocket costs can be small. You can operate from your house making the best of what you have like a laptop, mobile phone, and internet.
Certain expenses are critical and variable, depending upon your skill sets. Here are some points to consider while deciding on the cost of a PR agency.
If you are good with designing logos, fonts, colors, and your communications' overall look, that means you are saving a cost that you otherwise will pay to a graphic designer. You can also generate your logo using an online free logo maker
free logo maker.
Printing of sales and marketing collaterals, if required
If you are good with website development, then design it yourself or hire a website developer
A content writer will be a good investment for sales and marketing communications if writing is not your strength
These expenses should run you back around $10000/month when starting out. However, this cost may vary depending on the finesse you want. Also, while your agency is getting set up, it can take some time before you start generating enough income to survive. So try to plan a financial reserve for kick-off.
Choosing A Target Industry
Develop a client base that matches your background, skills, or specialization. It is crucial to contact peers and industry professionals to establish connections
Companies who are about to launch a product or have gone under a merger, or are changing branding or leadership can also be potential candidates.
This entirely depends on your reputation and how you help your customers achieve their goals. You can get paid by the project, hourly or monthly.
For instance, if you feel that writing a newsletter can take your 4 hours, you multiply your hourly rate by 4.
Similarly, you can get paid as per completion of the project or every month. That's up to your negotiation with your client.
As you spend time in the industry and develop your skill set and that, your expertise and reputation can get what you charge or even more. Also, you can have a closely associated side business such as media training for your clients. In this, you can train them how to give and take interviews.
Name Of Your Agency
Finding a name is a very critical part which can be challenging. The name reflects who you are as a company. In case you need some help brainstorming some ideas, check out some free name generators.
After setting up a domain name, make sure you create a professional email account for your company(@yourcompany.com)
Step2: Establishing A Legal Business Entity
There are many business structures like a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, or cooperation.
Establishing your business entity with LLC or corporation business structure protects you from being held responsible if your PR agency is sued. However, hiring some best LLC services can be helpful in handling important documents and filings.
Step4: Register For Taxes
Before getting started with your business, you will have to pay various federal and state taxes.
It would be best to have a CA who can guide you through the process.
Recording your expenses and source of income is essential to understand financial performance. Keeping detailed accounts simplifies your annual tax filing.
Step5: Open Your Business Bank Account
Using a dedicated business account is essential for personal asset protection. Mixing your personal and business accounts your personal assets like your car, home, etc., can be at risk if your business is sued.
Additionally, having a business account with a bank makes you entitled to business loans depending on your business scale.
Some key benefits of having a business bank account are:
- Protects your assets in the event of your business getting sued
- It makes you eligible for loans as per your scale of business
- It makes tax filing easy
- All your business expenses are in one place, making tracking easy for evaluation
Step6: Permits And Licenses
Before you start your agency, make sure you get all the necessary permits and licenses, failing which might result in hefty fines.
Specific Permits and licenses are required to run a PR agency. Specific local licensing may be applied, so for more information, check with your town, city, or country clerk's office for details about local permits and licensing.
Step7: Service Contract
Before getting into business with any client, signing a service contract is a must. The agreement should clearly state the expectation of the client and minimize the risk of legal dispute. The contract should also have payment terms and conditions and intellectual property ownership as agreed upon mutually.
Image below shows an example of service contract.
Step8: Promoting A Public Relations Agency
Think like your prospective client to find them! What do they read? Where do they go? Which association have they joined? You have to be where they are. Meet them where they hang out.
You can describe your expertise in more or fewer words. Try to narrow down what you do in as few words as possible. Have consistency in your communication.
If you can, get your agency to advertise in their trade publications or buy a booth at conventions. You can also explore advertising in digital and print media.
Step9: Customers Retention
Think of your agency as one of your clients. Your job is to bring them to the public's attention with the communications they want to share. Your aim should be the same for your agency too.
Start your e-newsletter or a blog. Ask each of your clients or potential client to include them in your articles for the subscription list. Please do not write a sales pitch; write informative content and add value to them. Communicate in a way that you come across as a valuable resource.
This requires significant amounts of time.
Step10: Website Presence
Having a business website allows customers to know more about your company and the services you offer. Social media is the most effective way to establish your web presence.
Public relation professionals should be pro at verbal communication and have a good network. You are only as good as your network. Working in a PR agency beforehand can help you get better insights into the process, increase your credibility, and you may even meet your future potential clients.
What Happens In A Typical Day At A PR Agency
Your day at a PR agency might be full with (some or all) the following activities:
- Generating your client's business through phone calls, written communications, and attending related events
- Networking with industry professionals to explore partnership opportunities and stay ahead of market trends and completion
- Nurturing media relationships that affect your client. Pitching them and serving as a spokesperson on their behalf
- Creating communication collaterals
- Everyday activity may include billing clients, paying bills, overseeing employees, or interviewing prospective employees
It would help if you were an excellent salesperson to attract clients, nurture media relations and convince journalists that your client has a story that should be told. Be a persuasive people-person.
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