5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Online PR Agency

We've been getting a lot of inquiries about our social media marketing services lately, but the truth of the matter is that many people aren't ready to take that step yet. It's always a bummer when we have to tell people that we're not the right online PR agency for them, but we'd rather be honest and miss out on some easy money than take somebody's cash and deliver subpar results. Simply put, if we don't think the ROI is going to be there, we don't take the client.

Before hiring us (or any other online marketing firm) to handle your social media marketing, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are my margins big enough to make social media marketing worth the cost? We get contacted by a lot of authors looking to get their books some online exposure, but it just doesn't make sense for them to pay us to handle their web PR. Here's why: let's say that for every book sold, the author gets $5 (realistically, the pay per book is much less than that). If we charge $400/week for our social media marketing and online PR services, we'd have to move 80 books a week just to cover our costs. Although it's possible, it's not likely — at least not for a couple of months, assuming the book itself is really good and people want to read it. It's much easier for us to work with companies like Westbrook Vacation Rentals (one of our favorite clients), which rents out its vacation homes in Arizona for a couple thousand dollars per week. In that case, we only need to move one vacation rental every month or so to make it worthwhile.
  2. Is my website ready for social media marketing traffic? Before you invite people over for a party, you probably make sure your house is clean. The same is true for your digital house. Take an objective look at your website, and ask yourself if you'd be impressed enough with the site to make a purchase (and trust it with your credit card information). If I had a dollar for every time I had to put off working with a client because they needed to get their website in order first, I'd have enough money to fill up my gas tank (and I have an SUV). Before spending money, time and effort on online PR or social media marketing, make sure your website is ready to convert the visitors into buyers.
  3. Does my website have SEO integrated into the code? We can write you 30 SEO blogs each week, but unless your site itself is optimized for the keywords we use in the posts, you won't gain much real traction with the search engines. I wouldn't say that blogging without back-end SEO integration is a waste of money, but it definitely won't be as effective as it would otherwise be. And if you're going to do something, you might as well do it correctly — right?
  4. Is my product any good? Telling a potential client that their product or business model sucks is akin to telling them that their baby is ugly — it's painful and embarrassing for everyone involved. We've never come right out and said it, but if we don't believe in what's being sold (or at least believe that other people will be interested in what's being offered), we can't take on the client. It all comes down to ROI — and if the product is no good, no amount of social media interaction or online PR will help. This may sound borderline cruel, but it's something we feel pretty strongly about at The Content Factory, and in the end it spares us (and the business owners) a lot of awkward conversations.
  5. Do I have the funds to cover the online PR campaign? Online PR and social media marketing often take some time to develop (usually, it's about 2-3 months before the ROI covers our fees). You can't just hire an online PR agency for a few weeks and expect to see sales go through the roof immediately, so if you don't have the funds to stay the course and see the campaign through, you should hold off until you do.

These are all things that we ask ourselves before signing on new clients — and we're pretty honest with potential clients about all of these points. If your website needs a makeover, we'll tell you (and even refer you to the right web designer for the job). If your margins aren't big enough to cover our costs, we'll let you know. If your baby is ugly, we'll tell you we're at capacity and can't take on any more clients right now.

However, other online PR firms may not be so up front. Before shelling out a ton of cash on social media marketing, make sure that your products/services are something that people will actually pay for, your website is ready for the increase in traffic and you're ready for the cost involved with running the campaign correctly. If you have all of those bases covered, feel free to contact us about what we can do to take your company to the next level!

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