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I’m often asked: ‘what makes a good PR professional?’. I’ve spent more than 15 years in total working with clients across the foodservice industry to help build their brand, increase awareness, drive sales/listings and ultimately increase the bottom line. I share a passion for the industry with a drive to deliver results and I wouldn’t still be doing it now if I didn’t meet the expectations of my clients.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always seem to be the case. All too often I meet brands who have been ‘burnt’ by an unscrupulous PR partner and it’s understandable that it might put them off in future.

Likewise, it can be a bamboozling decision to take if you’ve never put your trust  in an external consultant – particularly now that the lines are blurring between PR and digital.

With this in mind, here are my four top tips for anybody taking their first steps into enlisting the support of a foodservice PR agency or freelancer.

  1. Ask about their media contacts. One of the most important things that helps me to achieve great results for my clients, are the relationships I’ve built with key trade journalists. It’s one of the main reasons you would choose an industry-specific PR professional so feel free to put your PR on the spot. Ask what magazines you should be reading in your sector, probe them on who is the new editor of your key publication and ask when was the last time they spoke to Journalist A or Editor B. You’ll soon find out if they know their stuff or not.
  • Do some digging into their other clients. Any good PR professional will happily share the name of other clients because they can offer testimonials on the standard you can expect. I’ll often include case studies if I meet a prospective new client to demonstrate the type of activity I can offer, and in some cases I’ve even passed on client phone numbers (with permission!) as an extra vote of confidence. In most cases, a PR agency or freelancer wouldn’t work with two directly competing brands so if they’re being coy about their current clients, ask why.
  • Get your brief right. This is an important one. It’s unreasonable to expect any PR agency or freelancer to pull together a winning proposal if you don’t know yourself what you’re looking for. By all means involve the potential PR in the process, but it’s vital that you provide a brief which covers things such as your objectives, brand values, target audiences, distribution channels, an idea of budget and more. It’s a two-way process and the more you put into your brief, the more you’ll get from your external partner.
  • Consider the onboarding process. Similarly, it’s vital when you do appoint a PR partner that you provide them with everything they need to do the job to the best of their ability. Immerse them in your business, share your wider marketing plans, set up product training and always include them in conversations about plans or launches as early as possible. I always say I would rather have too much information when I start a new account, than not enough.

Have you got any other ideas to support brands in choosing a PR partner? Connect with me and share them on LinkedIn.