4 Tips for Choosing a PR Consultant

For most companies and organizations, the PR (public relations) department boasts a huge and important presence. This is because public relations has a huge impact on how successful your business is. It takes a very specific skill set to excel at PR, and that's why you need to keep a discerning eye if you're hiring a professional in the area. When it comes to hiring a consultant, what tips do you need to keep in mind? Read on to find out!

A Degree
Now, this is often debated, because many people could claim to have a working knowledge of public relations. After all, many individuals know the basic strategies for reaching out to a target audience. However, most would agree that it's important to hire someone with a degree in public relations or similar field (journalism, communication studies, etc). You want the candidate to understand the diverse techniques needed for your company's success, in addition to a grasp of the entire disciplines - terminology, notable names, laws, etc..

Social Media
If your PR consultant is adamantly opposed to the use of social media in marketing, you're going to have a major problem. So many companies and businesses are using social media marketing today, and you need catch up to them if you want to have any chance of being competitive. From Facebook pages to Twitter accounts, these tools really help to get the word out about your business in ways never before envisioned.

The Approach
When you are interviewing potential candidates for the job, find out their best methods. For example, some public relations experts emphasize networking, while others will downplay the importance of these events in favor or online efforts. There is no universally correct approach, but there are likely best practices for your niche or market. It all depends upon who you are as a business and what your business-specific goals are. You need to make sure their methods match yours. Just because something worked for a vacuum company doesn't automatically mean that it will transfer over to a non-profit agency. If they're coming from a different sector, find out why they think their skills will transfer - unless you're looking to expand into a new market, of course.

No "Quick Fixes"
Upon hearing the word "consultant," you might think you are hiring someone with whom to work for a short amount of time. Instead of hiring a person to hold a permanent position on your team, you're envisioning someone who will diagnose the problem, offer some solutions and then move on to another company or business. Instead, you should really be looking for a consultant with whom to build a long-term relationship. Public relations fixes do not just happen overnight. No, they are supposed to be helping you to create long-term relationships with customers, media and more. This simply can't be accomplished with a "quick fix" - public relations isn't a single task - it's an investment, upkeep even. You never know when something terrible or controversial could befall your organization, and your PR professional may just be the most important person on your staff.

Author Pam Johnson is a PR professional who obtained her degree from one of the Top 20 Value Online MBA Programs.