• August 10, 2016

Buyers Guide: How to Choose a PR Firm

Buyers Guide: How to Choose a PR Firm

Welcome to our weekly Buyers Guide series where we share everything you need to know about specific business purchases, including the questions to expect and the questions to ask. Here’s how to choose a PR firm for your business. 

PR Firm Buyers Guide

Successful public relations campaigns and overall strategies can bring your business many benefits – third party validation and awareness of your business, team, product or service amongst prospects, customers, employees, investors, etc. – to name a few. Choosing a PR firm is one of the most important marketing decisions a business can make, and also one of the most daunting given the sheer number of options to pick from.


A successful PR program requires a lot of time, effort, and expertise in how to navigate digital marketing and media. For some businesses, third party PR support is wiser than trying to accomplish it in-house at various stages of growth. PR firms can help you make large impacts during news-worthy periods, crystallize messaging, communicate more effectively, produce content, win awards and speaking engagements, run customer marketing programs, and drive awareness amongst influencers such as online and offline media, bloggers, analysts, and more.


Without a PR firm, your company is either not paying attention to necessary PR goals, without PR strategy, or relying on internal teams to produce PR results. Further, if your business is about to make a big product announcement, close a funding round, or any other newsworthy event, your PR firm can help you capitalize on that and create buzz. The benefits of hiring a PR firm include having access to a team of experts who produce results day-in-and-day-out, therefore accruing larger networks, learning from relevant PR experiences, and fostering important relationships with reporters and influencers in your industry. Without a sole focus on PR, your company has likely not formed such experiences and relationships. As soon as your business objectives include generating awareness, driving leads, and product validation, PR strategy should be top of mind.

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Not every agency is the best fit for every business, and vice versa. One of the biggest challenges in implementing a sound PR strategy is finding the best PR partner that will drive results and that you can trust. There are many agencies to choose from with different strategies, team and fee structures, and more. It can be overwhelming to sift through your options but we can help you by determining the top PR firms that match your goals, budget, growth strategy, etc.

Here are top considerations throughout the PR purchasing decision process:


  • Do you have relevant experience with other businesses in my industry?
  • Do you work with businesses of my size and stage?
  • Do you work on a monthly retainer or project basis and what do they start at?
  • What are typical contract terms and what services are included?
  • Do you charge by the hour or are you goals-based?
  • Can I expect to be charged any extra fees?
  • What is your typical account team structure?
  • What sort of results can I expect within a certain amount of time?
  • How responsive are you?
  • How do you handle measurement and what type or reporting can I expect?
  • Are you equipped to help me with other services such as messaging creation, paid and organic social marketing, content creation and syndication, creative design, etc.?


  • How have you handled PR and marketing to date?
  • What are your PR goals for the next 3, 6, to 12 months?
  • What channels have performed well for you to date or do you expect to perform well?
  • Is this a short-term project or long term commitment from your business?
  • Do you have a media spokesperson?
  • Will the PR firm be handling writing or do you have internal writing support?
  • What news assets can the PR firm expect over the next year?
  • What metrics can the firm access and monitor to gauge PR success?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you have customer references?


This depends on the firm. Most agencies have monthly retainer fees that range anywhere from $6,000 to $20,000. A larger and smaller PR firm might offer you a monthly retainer fee of $8,000 but it’s more important to understand the team structure. Your team at one agency might be more senior and strategic while at the other agency, more junior and tactical. Similarly, your $8,000 PR program at one firm might be strictly focused on media relations and content, and an $8,000 PR program at another agency might include media, content, social marketing, messaging, and awards. While more services for your money might seem ideal for cash-strapped businesses, it’s important to navigate these terms carefully, as you don’t want your firm to do a subpar job at all of those services rather than excelling at one or two.


As mentioned above, this varies and depends on your PR and marketing goals. Many firms have minimum contract agreements but are flexible on services terms. Finally, inquire about extra fees as some PR firms will tack on extra charges each month to cover the cost of the services they use to run your account. Also inquire on about your out clause as some firms will require 30 day notice to cancel.


Are they available to you when you need them? Do they charge you extra if they don’t meet your goals within the allotted amount of time given to your account? When speaking with references, inquire about their level of satisfaction with support during the quieter times of your business.


Ask for the ability to speak with businesses in similar industries, of similar size, and with similar PR needs. Ask for sample results, sample writing content, meet with the account managers and executives that will be in charge of your program day-in and day-out.


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