There’s no shortage of brilliant Freelance PR professionals but it’s important to find the right consultant for your business.
As we hit the final leg of 2022, businesses are firming up their marketing strategies for 2023 – for many, whether SMEs or PLCs, public relations will be an integral part of those plans.
As a first port of call when appointing a new PR partner, companies should consider whether their requirements are best served by a PR agency, or whether an independent consultant would better suit their needs. Demand for Freelance PR consultancy saw steady growth throughout 2022, with The Work Crowd reporting a 61% increase in new clients joining the platform.
As ever there are pros and cons with both options, but for those companies considering hiring an Independent PR Consultant, there are several things to consider when building a shortlist:
Hire a Freelance PR with relevant experience
Some PR professionals choose to remain sector agnostic but many have extensive, specialist expertise which could be of huge benefit – not only in getting to grips with your business, but producing content and spotting opportunities, requiring less time-intensive input from your team and allowing them to hit the ground running to deliver results. They may also be able to make introductions to their own contacts, helping to expand your network.
Along with relevant sector and industry expertise, you should ensure that your Freelance PR consultant can offer a wide-range of services, from media relations and digital PR through to crisis communications, media buying and social media.
An effective marketing campaign will include a range of tactics which may well evolve over time; you don’t want to find yourself having to hire supporting services from elsewhere.
Is your PR consultant accredited?
Be sure to check whether your Freelance PR consultant is accredited – accreditation from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) means they follow best practice. It also demonstrates that they are committed to continued learning and development, allowing them to best advise their clients on both opportunities and risks in the face of new technology, such as Generative AI or managing ESG.
Look for a proven track record
Hiring a Freelance PR with a proven track record of success will give you peace of mind that your business is in the best hands. Make sure you ask plenty of questions about previous work and successes and don’t be afraid to ask for client testimonials.
Will your expectations be met?
Whether you’re hiring a Freelance PR or a PR agency, it’s important to discuss your expectations and Service Level Agreement (SLA) openly. Be clear about how much communication you expect, and how frequently, and be realistic about the level of input you can reasonably provide.
Ask how many meetings you can expect, how many of those will be face-to-face, and how frequently you will receive reports, whether that’s weekly, monthly or more in-depth quarterly reports. A clear SLA will ensure that your expectations are met, avoiding issues down the line.
Does your Freelance PR share your values?
You will be speaking regularly with your PR consultant, so it’s important that you get along. Make sure that you share a good rapport and, crucially, that they share the same values as your business – they will be your external representative when dealing with the media after all.
Your PR consultant will become part of your team, so it’s important that you get along and that they’re a good fit with your company’s culture.
Who will be managing your account?
One of the biggest benefits of working with an Independent PR consultant is a single, senior point of contact. The way most PR agencies are structured means that strategic direction is led by directors while day-to-day delivery and client liaison is managed by junior colleagues. It’s an approach that can work very well, but for those who prefer to work with a single person, with the certainty of senior expertise on strategy through to delivery, Freelance PR would better fit the bill.
Will your work be outsourced?
Do bear in mind that there are Independent PR consultants who do on occasion outsource work to other trusted professionals. Be sure to ask what relationships prospective PR freelancers have with others, and whether any of your work would be outsourced.
There is no shortage of brilliant, extremely talented Freelance PR consultants, but it’s important to ask the right questions to ensure you appoint the right person for your business.