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Five questions to ask before hiring a public relations consultant

Hiring a public relations consultant is an important decision that should not be made lightly. Here are five questions you should ask before making that commitment.

1. What can I expect from our initial conversation?

An initial conversation is likely to take place over the phone. The purpose of this call is to get to know each other, discuss targets, expectations and a potential budget. It is often quickly apparent if there is a match between a consultant and prospective client. Once this baseline is established, an in-person meeting or follow-up call/video conference is usually scheduled.

2. What is your background?

A successful corporate communications program starts with an effective media strategist. When paying good money for this service, it is important to make sure the person is qualified. It is helpful to ask questions such as: Have you worked with similar firms? How did you end up in your current position? What are you most passionate about?

3. What services do you offer?

A quality public relations consultant can identify suitable publications and reporters as well as most trends in an industry or news cycle, but the services offered from firm to firm can vary greatly. Often times, the media strategy you want will dictate who you hire to execute it.

4. Do you provide a summary of charges?

There is often a good amount of planning and research that goes into any effective outreach around corporate announcements, product launches, thought leadership or even hitting the speaking circuit. Given the level of attention to detail needed, fees do add up. Always ask for a monthly summary of all hours and expenses.

5. If I want to change the retainer agreement, what are my options?

A retainer agreement is a contract between the consultant and the client. Both the monthly fee and duties are detailed to both parties and agreed to in advance. Should a change need to be made to this agreement, each case is evaluated on its own merits. Most consultants will make every attempt to reasonably accommodate such a request.

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