A few weeks ago, we wrote on why you should outsource your PR to another firm. But even if you find a great firm with excellent contacts, you cannot expect them to do all the heavy lifting for your company’s PR! Our current firm is wonderful, staffed with some of the nicest and hardest-working people we’ve ever met, but if we want to get the most for our PR dollar we have to step up our game as well. A good PR firm can get you great coverage, but you can spread the word even further if you take a few steps right from your office.

Make sure all the pieces of your PR campaign fit together

1. Use Social Media!

We know, we know – we’re starting to sound like a broken record. We probably tell our readers to use social media in some form in nearly every blog post we write, but there is a good reason for that – it works. In a survey by BRANDFog, 77% of respondents were more likely to buy a product or service from a company that uses social media.

If you got an article published thanks to your PR people, or were featured in a story, don’t just expect viewers to find it. Tweet it out, post it on Facebook – spread awareness! Taking a few minutes to plug a link that makes you look good is a no brainer, so remember to try and push viewers to whatever your PR firm is working on.

2. Avoid gimmicks and hooks

These are the best ways to sabotage the considerable work your PR firm is putting into crafting your business’s image. Public relations is all about perception – you want people to perceive you as an expert in your field, thus making your company look more trustworthy and respectable than your competitors’s.

One of the easiest ways to ruin that is to fall back on cheap gimmicks. We’ve heard about construction companies that would send crowbars with a business card to people they thought had client potential, and all you have to do is turn on the TV and wait for the commercials to see major corporations and local businesses alike trying to sell a product by acting like their customers are morons – there’s one business in particular near our office that seems to think screaming their name over and over again will inspire some brand loyalty.

Your customers will know what you are up to, and they will probably choose a competitor over you because gimmicks nearly always insult intelligence of the target audience by expecting them to throw money at a business simply for a cheap marketing stunt. If you want to stay in business in the long term, and create repeat clients, avoid these types of stunts at all costs.

3. Ask for criticism, not praise

You should be personally talking to your PR firm at least weekly so you know exactly what they are doing to help your company and to give your final approval on potential projects. But, before you hang up the phone after a meeting and go on your merry way, ask for some criticism. Chances are they will send you an e-mail with a little bit of praise every time you send something to them for final submission, but you need to know if they think you could be doing anything differently. Your PR firm will do its best work when the two of you are on the same page, but they may be a little apprehensive about critiquing a client. So open the door to criticism, and make sure to make the changes they recommend! Don’t let pride ruin an otherwise great PR campaign.

And, finally, make sure you send a few positive words their way once in a while too. They are working their butts off to help your company and everyone likes to feel appreciated. With mutual appreciation on both sides, they’ll go the extra mile to get you better outlets and contracts.