Hiring a freelance publicist or PR firm can seem like a daunting and overwhelming task to undertake. Knowing who to trust, how much to pay and why you even need publicity in the first place can feel like trying to decipher hieroglyphics. But arming yourself with just a little bit of knowledge beforehand can mean the difference between choosing a stellar publicist who knocks it out of the park or choosing one that drains your budget and only secures a late night cable TV show with a viewership of negative two. Here’s where to start:
1. Do your research. And no, I do not mean a Google search. Talk with colleagues within the industry and ask around. Who do they trust and who have they used in the past successfully? Recommendations within your industry from seasoned industry veterans will be your first step in choosing the correct publicist or pr firm.
2. Set up an interview. Now that you have a short list of recommended publicists, make appointments to either meet them in person or speak over the phone.
3. Ask these questions: How long have you been in pr? What is your specialization? How many clients do you keep on roster each month? Do you deal with social media also? What level of media can you realistically see securing for me? Who will actually work on my campaign? Will I have a seasoned pro working on our campaign or will an intern or junior account executive be assigned to my account? (And trust me, you will want the seasoned pro.) Can you draw up a proposal, detailing the specifics of what you see our media campaign consisting of? How long is a typical campaign and how much will that cost me per month?
4. Ask for references. After your initial meeting or telephone interview, you should have a pretty good idea of the communication skills, charisma, aptitude and background of that particular publicist. However, don’t just take their word for it. Publicists are geniuses at polishing up the facts and presenting them wrapped up in a glittery razzmatazz package. That is why references are so important. Ask to see a list of at least 5-10 client references and follow up with a few. Ask how happy they are with that particular publicist or firm and if they would hire them again.
5. Make sure you are on the same page. If you are a Christian artist, make sure the publicist you are looking to hire is experienced with not only music media, but Christian music media specifically. Also, do you feel their personality and who they seem to be as a person equals your passion and mission? You can’t expect to hire a publicist with differing values or lack of common ground and have them understand you as an artist and do a stellar job for you. Go with your gut and make sure you are not only comfortable with that person but feel they would be truly passionate about your project.
These simple steps may seem like no-brainers, yet skipping any of these five could very well result in hiring the wrong publicist for your needs. And remember, you are not just hiring a publicist or PR firm for their relationships and Rolodex, you are hiring their personality and creativity. Once you make the right decision, you will be delighted at what a good publicist can do for your image, brand, exposure and credibility. We ‘doctors of spin’ can be pretty handy to have around….
Beth Hood-Fromm is owner and Chief Publicist at OMG Publicity in Franklin, TN. A seasoned pr vet, Beth has been privileged to work with top-name clients such as Tim McGraw, Max Lucado, Dr. Gary Chapman and Martha Stewart. She lives in Franklin, TN with her husband, songwriter Andrew Fromm and their brand-new baby boy, Hudson. Learn more at www.OMGPublicity.com.