10 tips for hiring a PR / marketing firm for nonprofits and corporate representation

All PR and marketing firms are the same, right?


PR and marketing firms are unique, and finding the right firm for your nonprofit or for-profit organization is critical to whether the firm will serve you well, or not.

Here are some pointers when searching for the right firm:

  1. Do they have a proven track record representing organizations in your industry category?
  2. Are they small enough to give you personalized service, yet experienced enough that they know what they are doing?
  3. Will they give you sufficient time and work for your PR marketing budget?
  4. Will the top person/people at the firm be involved in the day-to-day activities on your behalf?
  5. Are they responsive and accessible?  Do they return calls/emails promptly and are they available for in-person meetings when you need them?
  6. Is the quality of their work, namely their writing, first-class?  If not, you might be getting an inexperienced person or even an intern working behind the scenes.
  7. Do they think strategically or do they simply churn out press releases?
  8. Do they charge for every expense to the point that the monthly fee increases by 20-30%?  (If this is the case, run!)
  9. Is the chemistry right?  Do you believe you will actually enjoy working with them?
  10. Last, are they creative?  Do they bring new, fresh ideas to the table, or is it the case of same old, same old?

These are just some of the questions you should ask when interviewing PR marketing firms, and after you make a decision, make sure they abide by all their promises.




CNN reports on America’s worst nonprofits — a donor and a PR problem.

CNN reports an investigation with the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting that names “America’s Worst Charities.”  A yearlong investigation shows 50 nonprofits that raised in some cases tens of millions of dollars, yet gave as little as under 1% of the funds to the people they are chartered to help.

The bulk of the funds raised went to enriching the heads of the charities and to for-profit fundraising consultants.

A bit appalling wouldn’t you say and a bit of a PR problem for those charities named?  What would you do if you found out the hard-earned money you were donating to a cause never made it to helping the people you thought you were helping?

What’s the lesson?  Donors need to keep donating, but perhaps a bit more transparency on the part of nonprofit organizations and a bit more questioning on the part of donors is in order.  Just to keep everybody honest.

You can read the story here.



Obama speech-less, and misses a PR opportunity

President Obama came to California to raise money, meet with China’s leader and, presumably, talk about healthcare reform.

With the uproar over the government listening in on citizens’ conversations, the President apparently wanted to divert some attention to the new healthcare exchanges being formed.  His plan was to use California as a model for the exchanges and get the word out.

However, there are more juicy stories to cover and media that came to a news conference where the President was to talk about healthcare came equipped with questions on a range of issues, not healthcare.

Then a remarkable thing happened.

The President was on stage flanked by healthcare representatives ready to deliver his remarks, but the remarks were not on his podium.  It was an awkward moment captured by CNN.  The President was ready to talk, but didn’t have his talking points.  He looked around and loudly said, “people?” a couple of times.  While he was waiting, for what probably seemed like an eternity for him, a reporter tried to ask a question on another topic.  The President deflected the question asking everybody to wait for his prepared remarks that were being rushed to the stage.

If the President was a bit quicker on his feet, he would have realized that the few moments that he and everybody waited in silence for his remarks would be fodder for YouTube, other social media, and mainstream media.  CNN showed it.  Therefore, what better time for him to ad lib about healthcare without his remarks.  He certainly is smart enough to do that.  Had he, then the two minute segment would have included the message he wanted to convey, a message that the media cares little about and probably won’t report now.

Social media loves mistakes.  YouTube is full of mishaps, fails and embarrassments.  The President could have and should have recognized the opportunity to get a message across because of the mishap, and not to let the moment go into oblivion.


Is doing PR in Los Angeles different than in other cities?

The public relations (PR) business is the same regardless of what city you work in, right?  Well, I’m not so sure.

Every city has its unique culture.  And certainly, it has its own media outlets.

The PR/marketing business in Los Angeles is certainly no different. For one thing, it is often celebrity-driven.  Because so many celebrities live here, people tend to think that if a celebrity is not attached to a non-profit event, then it not worth the time of day.

Yes, some celebrities are involved in some causes.  But the non-profits that have a celebrity spokesperson are few and far between, when you consider just how many causes there are.  Therefore, if a non-profit doesn’t have celebrity glitz, don’t discount it.  They still probably do great work and are worthy of donations and attention.

Other cities are in similar situations depending on what industry employs most residents.  Examples include auto, aerospace, high tech, fashion and so forth.  What happens in these industries are of particular interest to local media.

Although local media still exist, with news moving online, stories are attracting national and global interest.  At one time we would pitch a story only to the LA Times on an LA company.  But today, that story may also have relevance to the New York Times because everyone with a computer has access to it.

Knowing the media of the city you are based in is critical, even if every news story could have national or global interest.  That’s why organizations that do business in Chicago hire a Chicago PR firm, and if an organization or company wants to enter the LA market, they hire an LA marketing firm.

So to get back to the headline of this post, “Is PR in Los Angeles different than in other cities?”  Well, I would have to say yes and no.

Sorry for the confusion.