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Should I hired a PR agency and how much should I spend?

I’ve been running a decorating firm for the last four years and I’m considering bringing a PR agency on board. How do I choose a PR firm and what’s a reasonable budget in terms of percentage of turnover to dedicate to PR?

Charlie Mullins writes:

Creating good PR isn’t rocket science it’s about creating a public image that ensures that potential customers think of your company in a positive way before they have even used you for the first time. So before you bring a PR company on board you need to be certain in your own mind exactly how you want the general public to view you.  

It’s also important to realise that a good PR strategy goes hand-in-hand with your advertising and marketing, but they are not the same thing. When I launch an advertising campaign I expect to see a direct result in terms of sales. If Pimlico Plumbers is running a promotion on heating systems I expect to see an almost immediate increase in the number of units our guys are installing.

In many ways good PR is there to reinforce your message; if a potential customer sees a great deal you have advertised you don’t want them to think ‘I’ve never heard of these guys – do I trust them?’, or even worse ‘I have heard of these guys, and I think I’ll go elsewhere’. PR, unlike advertising, is not a short term thing, so when you decide to take the plunge you need to understand you are making a long-term financial commitment.

So, how do you choose the right PR firm for you, and how much should you pay?  The best advice I can give you is to think of a business that has impressed you. It doesn’t have to be in your industry, or even your sector, just a company with an impressive public image. The next step is to phone whoever’s behind their PR and see if they are people you can work with. And of course don’t choose a company who are promoting the competition.

Cost is the difficult part; you have to spend whatever it takes to get you where you want to be – and let me tell you it’s never cheap. We invest consistently in PR, but, considering our size, far less than people would expect.

So my final piece of advice is – spend what you have to, but be careful.

Charlie Mullins is the managing director of  Pimlico Plumbers

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