Every brand has a target audience. And it wants the target audience to feel a certain way about the company. Any negative publicity can ruin this harmony and damage the brand’s identity, even more so in the age of social media. But how can a brand do that? Well, a Public Relations Consultant knows precisely how to do it.
Now, Public Relations as a profession is relatively new. But the idea of masterfully using communication to build a desirable public image of a person or group. In fact, it is a practice that can be found way back in ancient Greece. After all, Aristotle’s Rhetoric and other similar texts by philosophers were meant to help public speakers sway mass opinion.
But it took the advent of mass communication to make public relations a profession and, later, a vast industry. The industry as we know it today came into existence at the turn of the 20th century, pioneered by the likes of Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays. The pair can be called the world’s first public relations consultants!
But what did they do? And what exactly is a PR Consultant? Let’s find out.
What Is a PR Consultant?
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A public relations consultant is someone brands and public figures rely upon to establish a positive image. They are the people who manage crises and paint a pretty picture for their clients.
They are professionals who prepare promotional content, organize events, and keep the public informed. In other words, they ensure that the brand or the public personality stays in the news for all the right reasons.
The 2020 census shows over 8,000 PR consultancy firms operate in the United States. This tells us much about how brands and organizations rely on public relations techniques. Further, the global public relations market size is projected to reach a whopping $133 billion by 2027.
Further, PR Consultant has a certain charm about themselves and are handy with the pen. How else would they manage to tilt public opinion to suit their client’s interests? They also possess an understanding of communication, psychology, and marketing.
As a result, a good PR consultant always has a solution. These consultants also have different specialties. For instance, some are great at crisis management, while others are adept at planning events.
3 Reasons Why Brands Should Hire a Public Relations Consultant?
First, let’s talk about the several reasons why hiring a PR consultant makes a lot of sense. Be it a brand or a public figure, creating a positive public image comes in handy to excel in their field. In today’s consumer-driven economy, being on the right side of the audience is even more critical.
1. To outshine your competitors
Does your competitor always find a way to be in the news? Are they often the talk of the town for all the right reasons? This is happening because they’ve got their public relations strategy right.
And you should see it as your signal to hire a PR consultant. Why? Because they can come up with innovative ways to get you in the public eye. All the headlines and conversations you hear about your competitor. A good PR strategy will help you replace them and catch the eye of your target audience.
Public relations consultants offer a lot more than marketing professionals. They bring in years of experience and stellar communication skills. In addition, they deal directly with the public and use many techniques to gather desirable headlines for your brand.
2. To build a rapport with the press
Journalists have a group of their own. There is a language that they speak, and public relations consultants are fully aware of that. They know how to start an email to a prominent media publication or how to pitch to them.
The writing skills of a public relations consultant come in handy in this. They seem to know how to hit the right chord. Furthermore, brands need to tell a relatable story to carve a place in the consumer’s mind in today's business world.
Public relations professionals also know how to leverage connections and make the most of them for their client’s benefit. They are professionals who will focus every second of their workday on generating meaningful conversations around your brand.
3. To stay relevant
It is a misconception that big brands don’t need good PR. The biggest brands focus the most on such strategies. After all, any business cannot afford to rest on its laurels in today’s fast-paced business environment.
So, one more reason to hire a PR consultant is to stay relevant. Staying in the discussion today requires a lot of promotional activities. That’s where PR consultants come in with their multi-tiered approach to generating conversations around your brand.
These can be everything from articles in the press about your brand to podcast features on topics relevant to your target audience. A PR consultant is someone who will make sure people keep hearing about you.
Factors to Consider While Hiring a PR Consultant
So, are you convinced about hiring a PR consultant? Now, the question arises of how to find public relations consultants that suit your brand. After all, there are endless options out there. No worries, here are the factors you should consider to end up with the perfect PR consultant for your business.
1. Track record
PR people know how to talk their way in and out of situations. What you need to do is separate the talkers from the doers. What’s the best way to do it? Take a look at that PR consultant's track record.
Someone who has worked in the industry for years will indeed have a portfolio to share. Take a hard look at that and insist on asking questions until satisfied. Have they served their previous clients well? Is there a case study that tells you how good they are with crisis management?
Dig deeper and deeper until you find a public relations consultant whose work satisfies you.
2. Industry specialization
This point pretty much goes without saying. If yours is an FMCG brand, you shouldn’t hire a consultant who has worked all their life for healthcare clients. Most consultants in PR have a specific industry they specialize in.
Does the specialization of the consultant match your needs? If the answer is yes, you can go ahead and look at other factors. But if they haven’t worked in your industry, you should move on to other options.
After all, if they don’t have solid work experience within the niche, they’re most likely unaware of the PR tools and techniques that work here.
3. Result-oriented work
Again, big talk is nothing new in the PR industry. But you must know how to spot that when hiring a consultant. You need to look for an orientation for results in a PR consultant.
Remember, we aren’t saying PR activities should yield results overnight. But if the consultant in question has nothing to say about results, that’s probably a bad sign. Why? Because you need someone who understands that the reason why you are investing in public relations is to get good results.
You want to see your brand be the talk of the town for all the right reasons. And the consultant you hire must understand that and have a plan to achieve it.
When you invest money in something, you have all the right to know how it will be used. You should expect a certain level of transparency from your public relations consultant. This is essential because the PR industry often gets a bad rep for not being transparent enough.
Furthermore, a competent consultant who has done good work in the industry will have no reservations about transparency. They will always be happy to keep the client in the loop.
Be straightforward regarding what you expect in terms of results. In return, settle for nothing less than concrete answers on how your consultant plans to deliver those results for you.
There are a lot of brands out looking for innovative PR consultants. Naturally, it is an appealing career option, too. So, if you want to become a PR consultant, read on as we uncover the several aspects of a career.
Becoming a Public Relations Consultant
A Public Relations Consultant in the United States is a well-paid professional. The average annual salary of PR consultants in the country is $78,181. So, the pay structure is not something to worry about if you want to start a career in the field.
Apart from the handsome salary, being a PR consultant allows you to be your own boss. This is not the case if you work as an employee at a PR agency. However, your journey to becoming a successful public relations consultant might have to start with being an employee at a big agency.
Anyways, let’s take a look at some requirements for starting in the field.
How to Become a Public Relations Consultant: Skills & Educational Requirements
Now that you know how appealing the prospect of a career in the field is, you must be itching to start the journey. We’re here to help you. Take a look at the skills and qualifications you need for the role.
- Above all else, a PR consultant must have stellar communication skills. That’s what they need to develop and nurture connections in the media and leverage them for their client’s benefit.
- As we have discussed, good writing skills are also a strong point of any good PR consultant.
- In today’s world of likes, comments, and retweets, public relations consultants must also have a strong understanding of social media.
- Good research skills and attention to detail are more skills that a PR consultant should ideally have.
Lastly, people skills are an absolute necessity for PR freelancers. After all, the industry is all about dealing with people to form a desirable opinion bubble for your client. And that requires a lot of persuasion and negotiation at times.
- A bachelor’s degree in communication, public relations, marketing, or a related field is a must-have to start in the role.
- Furthermore, starting in the PR industry as a freelance consultant will be hard. So, you might have to gain some years of experience at a PR firm before getting any work as a freelance consultant.
- Furthermore, any certification or courses in a related field will only add to your client’s trust in you. So, don’t stop at a bachelor’s degree and keep learning to become a successful public relations consultant. Also, stay in touch with all the trends, tools, and techniques to get clients.
So, were you a business owner wondering whether or not you need a PR consultant? Or were you someone who has been flirting with the idea of starting a freelancing career in the PR industry? Either way, this article was for both kinds of people.
Also, if you own a start-up, you now know how vital it is to hire a PR consultant. A good consultant will make sure your brand stays relevant in the age of one-week trends. Also, you will save a lot by hiring a consultant instead of a PR firm or a full-time public relations employee.
And if you’re an aspiring public relations consultant, you also know how well-paid a career in the field can be. If you have no prior experience, joining a PR firm and learning all the tools and techniques would be better.
So, update your resume and write an excellent cover letter. Fortunately for you, over 27,000 openings are projected each year for the role of public relations specialists.
Whether you’re hiring or trying to become one, a PR consultant plays a vital role in today’s business world to keep the audiences engaged with brands of their interest.