How to Evaluate Tech PR Firms
By Peggy Tierney Galvin, Chief Strategy Officer
Digital transformation has made it essential to adapt and create new strategies in order to meet your goals in a world of steep competition—whether this is gaining new funding, finding an acquirer or filing for an IPO. In the realm of technology, markets such as cybersecurity are often congested with competition, making it critical to get your differentiating message and brand voice clear and in front of your target audiences’ eyeballs.
With this, the role of public relations throughout the process of digital transformation has been key. But how do you evaluate what tech PR firm is right for you? Below we’ve outlined five key considerations to take into account when choosing a PR team, including size, social/digital media services and defining key performance indicators.
Where should you start?
Knowing where to start your search is a common challenge. There are a few easy places to start, using resources that are already available to you, including reaching out to those you trust. Ask your network, partners and/or investors who they have worked with or heard good things about.
Also, do a little competitor research. Do you like your competitors’ results? What services do their technology PR firms offer? While you wouldn’t necessarily want to retain the exact agency as your competitor – indeed, many have noncompete clauses anyway – it gives you a sense of what options are out there and what they offer.
Five important considerations
Once you have a selection of agencies to evaluate, your first impulse may be to focus on the agency’s attributes rather than on your own. To help you make the best choice for your unique needs, here are five important questions to ask.
Key consideration 1: What are my goals?
A successful PR program is designed to help you achieve your overall business goals. How will you define success? Approaching your search for a PR firm with clear objectives regarding your goals and purpose will go a long way toward finding a tech public relations firm that will support those goals.
Key consideration 2: How will I use coverage once I get it?
A cover story in Fortune magazine may bring in waves of inbound leads, but how will you use coverage for outbound? A few questions to prepare as you begin to leverage PR are: Does your sales team know how to use coverage? How does it integrate with your broader marketing program?
PR that exists in a vacuum is difficult to measure. It needs to be an integral part of your closed marketing/sales loop so you can measure the impact of different campaigns for different audiences.
Particularly for B2B companies, getting coverage to gain more customers or leads is only part of the equation. Technology, investor and channel partner relationships are critical for GTM, so it’s crucial to include them in your strategy, as well.
Key consideration 3: What size agency is right for me?
Determining whether a large or small agency is a better fit for your business is a key aspect in choosing a tech PR firm. Small agencies often offer more personal, experienced teams with targeted expertise and are often more cost-friendly. Large agencies may have broader teams and be more costly.
Key consideration 4: What kind of marketing support do I need help with?
PR is more than just press releases – today there’s a lot of crossover with content development, SEO and social media. It’s important to assess the full range of marketing needs you’re looking for to ensure the technology public relations firm of your choice is able to handle diversifying its output.
B2B tech companies need to know that in terms of PR, coverage that attracts more customers or leads is only part of the equation. Technology, investor and channel partner relationships are critical for your go-to-market strategy, so make sure to include these factors in your decision-making process, as well.
One mistake tech companies can make is thinking of their PR agency as just a tactics machine (aka press release order takers). In fact, PR agencies can deliver far more business value than just phone calls and press releases. They can design entire communications plans for IPO, M+A or entry into new markets. Be bold when you ask what the tech PR firms on your list can do for you, and you may get the value of a whole marketing team out of them.
And don’t forget that digital transformation made it common for PR teams to support customers with additional efforts such as digital media and social media activities, as well as asset creation. Social media, in particular, has transformed the way that companies can reach and interact with target media and audiences, making this a key consideration when creating your PR strategy. Evaluating whether or not a PR agency team can support your project with social media and digital marketing is important when considering which agency to choose.
Key consideration 5: How do they measure success/KPIs?
Ensuring you know what metrics will be used to measure the success of your campaign is another important consideration to keep in mind. Many technology PR firms use metrics such as share of voice, message resonance and brand sentiment, while others use advertising equivalency values.
Additionally, for those offering social media services, metrics such as impressions and engagement may be included. In order to ensure effectiveness and completion of your goals with PR, clarifying the metrics that will be used to assess this is a key part of choosing an agency.
Thinking it through
Choosing a PR agency – either for the first time or when it’s time to go in a new direction – is an important step for any business. PR is a powerful tool for elevating your business’ message, but choosing the right team to help craft and share that message for your organization is equally as important.
B2B tech companies have specific asks that their potential agency needs to be equipped to handle. Clarify for yourself what your goals are, how you’ll use your coverage and what else you need. Then do your due diligence with the help of business mentors and colleagues. Thinking everything through from the outset will save you many sorrows later on and will much more likely lead you to the tech PR firm that’s best for your organization.
Need help in identifying your goals and needs? Contact us and we can help you out.