What Is A PR Agency? Top Services + Misconceptions

What Is A PR Agency? Top Services + Misconceptions
Article by Jelena RelićJelena Relić
Last Updated: May 30, 2022

Have you ever read an exciting press release or heard news about a clever way in which a company handled a crisis? If so, a public relations (PR) agency was likely behind it.

But what is a PR agency exactly, and how can it help your brand?

We’ll share everything you need to know about PR agencies, from the services they offer to the most common misconceptions surrounding them, and how you can find an agency that’s the right fit for your brand.

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What Is A PR Agency?

A PR agency is a company that manages a brand’s public image for reputation management and brand awareness.

Different PR agencies may offer different services, depending on whether they specialize in a certain area.

Examples include:

  • Press communication PR agencies
  • Crisis management agencies
  • Internal communication agencies
  • Community management agencies
  • Strategic communication agencies

What Is A PR Team?

A PR team is a group of PR agents who cover different areas of expertise. Typically, a PR team includes:

  • Publicists: A publicist develops your public relations strategy and public relations programs and plans events and campaigns to execute the strategy. During a crisis, a publicist suggests ways for your brand to recover.
  • Copywriters: A copywriter prepares your press releases, social media content, blogs and speeches as per your brand voice.
  • Social Media Managers: A social media manager works on your social media event calendar, promotes your brand across different social media channels, interacts with your audiences and monitors the performance of social media campaigns.
  • PR Specialists: A PR specialist networks with media representatives and uses these contacts to book TV appearances and send out press releases to ensure your brand is seen in a positive light.
  • Spokespersons: Acting as the face of your company, a spokesperson represents your brand on TV and in other public appearances.

PR vs. Marketing

Despite sharing some similarities such as increasing brand awareness and spreading positive news about your brand, PR and marketing are not the same thing.

While different tools are used in marketing, it mainly relies on advertising and paid promotional campaigns.

PR focuses on organic methods, including public events, press releases or editorials, and using social or traditional media to engage with target audiences.

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What Does A PR Agency Do?

PR agencies provide a range of services to boost brand awareness and create a positive brand perception. The most common services include:

Reputation Management

Through reputation management, a PR agency safeguards your brand reputation.

From creating the messaging on your website to engaging with followers and responding to comments on various channels, a PR agency will make sure you are presented as a trusted brand with a respected reputation.

Media Relations

Considering that consumers worldwide spend approximately eight hours a day interacting with media, media is key to helping you build your reputation.

PR agencies connect with media contacts to ensure your brand gets positive media coverage.

For example, an agency might send your products to influencers in exchange for an online review, or reach out to journalists when your company has something new or exciting to announce.

Press Releases

From product launches to new campaigns and charity events, press releases are a great way to announce brand news and boost interest or build relationships with your audience.

A PR agency can create high-quality press releases and use media contacts to distribute them and ensure coverage.

Event Planning

A PR agency can help you plan brand events, invite journalists and influencers, engage and communicate with your audiences and stakeholders, and ensure your event is featured in the media.

Speech Writing

A PR agency can prepare a speech for press conferences and other events, to ensure your message is clear and that it aligns with your brand values.

Media Training

If your company is in the public eye and your team members often speak in public, ensuring consistent messaging is a must.

A PR firm can train your spokesperson to handle common interview questions, follow body language best practices and choose the right clothes for public appearances.

Internal Copywriting

From celebrating an employee’s birthday to discussing a major organizational change or boosting morale, a PR agency can help you create valuable internal content and distribute it via internal company channels.

Crisis Management

When a crisis strikes, timely and efficient communication with your audiences and stakeholders is crucial to show your response to the situation and maintain trust and loyalty.

A PR agency can create a crisis communication plan to define actions, messaging, platforms, channels and responses in the case of unforeseen events.

If you don’t have a crisis management plan in place and a crisis occurs, an expert PR firm can help you react quickly and adequately to help you maintain your brand’s reputation.

Clipping Services

Scanning all of the media coverage of your brand can be difficult to maintain on your own.

Using specialized tools, a PR agency can monitor your brand mentions and secure press clippings or broadcasted copies of stories that are published or aired.

Press Kit Preparation

A press kit, also known as a media kit, is handed to journalists to provide background information about your company.

The most common elements of a press kit include a company fact sheet, product fact sheets, executive bios, significant press releases or past news coverage.

A PR agency can help you prepare a press kit to impress, drive interest and provide key facts that media can feature in their publications.

Common Misconceptions About A PR Agency

Although incorrect, PR and marketing are often used interchangeably, which can cause confusion around what a PR agency does and does not do.

Now that we’ve covered what a PR agency can do for your brand, let’s look at the services that are not included in their expertise.

A PR agency does not:

Focus On Sales

Although a PR firm aims to present you as an industry expert, the key goal is not to increase sales.

However, building a strong image of your brand can indirectly position you as a preferred vendor or supplier, which can lead to an increase in revenue.

Share Their Media List

Although you pay for their services, a PR agency’s media contact list is proprietary, often based on personal relations.

The firm will use their media contacts to promote your brand, but they won’t often share their contact list with you.

Guarantee Media Coverage

Despite their efforts, PR agencies cannot guarantee media coverage. They have no final control over media teams.

However, a PR team will create highly engaging content aimed at provoking media interest.

Why Hire A Professional PR Agency?

Working with a PR agency with a proven track record is a cost-effective way to increase your visibility and build strong relationships using organic communication methods.

A PR firm will use its expertise to create a PR strategy, define the right channels to communicate your message and craft engaging content for traditional and social media.

The extensive network of media contacts that a PR agency can reach increases your chances of being seen and remembered.

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How To Find A PR Agency For Your Brand

With 8,505 PR agencies in the United States alone, choosing the right agency can seem like a daunting task.

To find the agency that’s right for your brand, follow the steps below:

Set Your Goals

Define what you want to accomplish. Your key goals might include improving your reputation after a crisis, promoting a new product or service, preparing a crisis management plan or organizing a shareholder event, for example.

Define Your Budget

Define the budget you are willing to spend in order to reach your goals.

Consider costs depending on those goals, such video production, event catering, printing costs and more.

Research PR Agencies

Research the PR agencies that can help you achieve your goals, by reviewing information about their past clients and projects, along with their team members and cost.

To find prospective agencies, visit the PR agency directory listings on trusted B2B websites such as DesignRush.

DesignRush’s website allows you to search agencies by location, category, area of expertise, hourly rates, reviews, clients and more.

Prepare Questions

After researching PR agencies, shortlist the ones you want to contact. List questions that you would like to ask them such as success stories, pricing structure, past work for clients in your industry, testimonials and more.

Meet The Shortlisted PR Agencies

Organize meetings with the shortlisted candidates to ask the questions you have prepared and meet the team that you would be working with.

Onboard The PR Agency You Have Selected

Once you have chosen the right PR agency for your project, onboard them to your brand by going through your goals, identifying the metrics you use to measure success and establishing points of contact.

What Is A PR Agency? A Quick Recap

So, what is a PR agency exactly?

A PR agency is a group of public relations experts that can help you boost your visibility and public reputation.

Some of the services a PR agency offers include:

  • Reputation Management
  • Media Relations
  • Press Releases
  • Event Planning
  • Speech Writing
  • Media Training
  • Internal Copywriting
  • Crisis Management
  • Clipping Services
  • Press Kit Preparation

To find the right agency for your project:

  • Set Your Goals
  • Define Your Budget
  • Research PR Agencies
  • Prepare Questions
  • Meet The Shortlisted PR Agencies
  • Onboard The PR Agency You Have Selected
Get connected with the right public relations agency for your project.
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