Getting value for money from an agency that knows your sector.
Investing in PR early in the life of your business will pay dividends later. Your reputation will grow and, properly managed, enhance your appeal to all those you deal with - prospective customers, associates, employees, suppliers, investors and neighbours.
But how do you ensure a proper return on what can feel like a substantial outlay in fees to consultants? The skill lies in choosing and using your consultants well. But I shall concentrate on choosing the right PR partner.
Who? You are likely to work better with a like-minded business: one that is small if you are small, regional if you are regional, international if you are international, a specialist in your own industry.
Where? Identify what you aim to get out of your PR and, if your main aim is to gain positive press coverage, go direct to the journalists in your trade publications for recommendations. Journalists are rather scornful of PR consultants so a recommendation from them is praise indeed.
Other sources of information are: the Public Relations Consultants Association (0171 233 6026), which provides advice for a small fee - its members have to comply with strict rules. The Institute of Public Relations (0171 253 5151) has a service called Matchmakers which may be more suitable for smaller companies looking for individual consultants.
Choose from a shortlist of up to three consultancies based on their presentations and how well they answer your brief.
Colette Hill is managing director of Colette Hill Associates 0171 622 8252.