7 mistakes to avoid when choosing a technology PR agency

If like many companies you’re planning ahead for the New Year, and are considering a fresh PR start for your business, then there are a few things that you will need to take into consideration before you hear any pitches.

Whether you are a start-up looking to promote your services/products or an established company with some news to get out, finding a technology PR agency that fits the bill, and gives you exactly what you want, can be a daunting task. This is even more so the case when you’re in the technology field and are seeking an agency that has your specialist industry in its portfolio.

PR agencies can be fickle – some PR consultants and consultancies say they are tech-savvy without knowing the difference between IoT and IFTTT…….and for both start-ups and long-standing brands there isn’t anything worse than hiring a PR agency that you have to waste time educating on the technology landscape that fits your services/products and correcting them on which media to target.

To make your life easier, here are the seven mistakes that businesses make when sourcing a new tech PR agency:

Starting with unclear goals

Be clear when briefing PR agencies on exactly what it is that you want. Whether it’s to launch a brand into the financial sector or increase share of voice against a key competitor, be crystal clear about your objectives? While “raising awareness” or “increasing exposure” is great, give more detail, especially about the people you want to target and why.

Having unrealistic expectations

If you are a start-up that hasn’t done any type of PR before, even with the best PR agency’s help, you may not appear in national newspapers and the BBC overnight. Good PR campaigns take time and use specific steps to ensure success. So, understand which activities will give you a quick hit – events – for example, vs longer term benefit though thought leadership.

Not setting a budget

Budgetary restraints not being communicated is a no-no. Before you meet with any PR agencies, have your financials in place so that you can decide which option will work best for you between retainer and project basis. Unlike a project basis, where you pay a set amount for a specified period of pre-agreed activity, a retainer is where you pay your agency a set amount every month to deliver all PR activities, and usually includes everything from writing press releases and media liaison to creating coverage reports and managing any crisis communications that arise.

No understanding of measuring success

How do you want your agency to measure the success of its activities? Do you want more traffic to your site, an increase in social media followers or are you more interested in having more mentions in the press than your competitors? If you’re after an increase in people following your brand on Twitter and Facebook, for example, it is always advisable to share the data that you for those accounts with your tech PR agency, before taking them on. In a campaign to increase social media followers, it helps for everyone to know where you are right now.

Only wanting one discipline

PR is closely linked with SEO, social and content creation – a few articles in the newspaper may help with initial enquiries, but it’s best to find an agency that can turn that article or press release into social content and place on your site for SEO benefit. PR agencies also offer internal communications services, producing your monthly company newsletter to keep everyone informed, and event management services, so your next event is a success and has media attention, so think about how interactive you want your PR agency to be and how they can help you and your marketing/SEO/events teams to fulfil their goals.

Being too focused on location

Do you really need the PR agency to be based where your offices are located, or can they be further afield? Do you prefer weekly meetings in your offices (remember you’ll be paying for travel time), or can the agency ring in using a conference line? While face to face meetings are important for a relationship, proximity shouldn’t be a main driver when selecting an agency. Video conferencing tools, like Skype and Google Hangouts, and collaboration software, such as DropBox and Google Drive, help you to share and work on the same documents in real-time, even if your PR agency is based in Europe, meaning you can work together wherever you – and they – are based.

Choosing generalist over specialist agency

Specialist over jack of all trades? Selecting the right PR agency for your needs and business is a very personal choice so we recommend choosing an agency that specialises in your field rather than a jack of all trades agency. Those who specialise in your sector/industry will be able to hit the ground running, already know all of the relevant media and likely already have existing relations with them. Check the agency’s website or ask for credentials to find out which clients they work with.

Finally, as with everything important, our main piece of advice, alongside not making these seven mistakes, is to take your time and consider all of the options. Hiring a larger PR agency may seem like the better option for your business, but these agencies often pass your PR activity on to younger, junior level executives to work on, so bigger is not always best. If in any doubt, don’t be afraid to ask your potential PR agency any questions, such as who exactly will be working on your account and who your day to day contact is.

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