||Step One is to identify and prioritize your organizations
goals. These goals will become the basis for determining your organizations
public relations goals, and the strategies and tactics of your public relations campaigns.
helpful exercise in this task is to identify the following:
- mission statement, aims of the organization, why it was founded;
- any special public relations skills/resources sought;
- key "publics" or stakeholders with whom your organization has a relationship;
- issues or areas of potential concern;
- current or past public relations efforts and an evaluation of their success;
- available market or public opinion research about your organization and/or its
- any requirements of collateral materials, advertising, etc;
- budget commitment/parameters;
- initial length of contract with a firm or individual;
- special circumstances that would affect any aspect of the public relations program.
If your organization is unclear about its goals, you should be prepared to invest
several months in working with a public relations firm to develop these goals and your
future direction. Many firms will conduct a reputation assessment which will evaluate your
current practices and suggest areas of improvement.
Step Two is to identify a public relations firm or individual counselor.
Good sources of information are your peers - friends, business acquaintances, fellow
members of business and civic groups. Find out if they are using a public relations firm,
and if so, what is their evaluation of the firm.
Also, if your organization belongs to a trade or professional association, ask it for
recommendations of public relations firms or counselors. You can also search the Internet
for firms, and you can call the local media reporters who cover your industry for their
thoughts. Finally, the Counselors Academy of the Public Relations Society of America is a
good source for information on firms in your area.
Step Three is to review the credentials and capabilities of each prospect.
Start by contacting the principal at each firm. Describe your organization and its public
relations needs as you see them, and ask if they would be interested in talking with you.
Make sure they do not already represent a client which might cause a conflict of interest.
Ask the principal to send a letter with:
- the firms general background and any experience in your organizations area;
- its range of services;
- the depth of professional qualifications of the firms principals and staff;
- specialized skills or resources such as market research or in-house design capabilities;
- a current client list - being a firms largest or smallest client could present
problems, so look for a good proportion of clients that are the same size as your
- the firms fee structure for its counsel and services;
- any relevant collateral material.
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