Due Diligence on your PR Firm

Research your PR Firms

By Mark Macias

You’ve decided to hire a PR firm. Make sure you do your due diligence.

Unfortunately, anyone can put up a shingle that says “PR FIRM” but that doesn’t mean the people inside weren’t selling shoes the previous week. This is why it’s so important for YOU to do your research and due diligence before hiring a PR firm.

During my time as Executive Producer with NBC in New York, publicists pitched me constantly, trying to get their clients on the news. Some tried calling me from blocked phone numbers, while others bombarded me with emails. I had a good view of how publicists worked, which were good, which ones had no clue and how they conceptualized stories.

Now, as the owner of a NYC public relations firm, I see the other side of publicity.

How to Identify the Best PR Firm

Potential clients frequently ask me the same questions – who do you know, are you a specialist in my industry, what connections do you have? Unfortunately, these questions are misleading for the potential client because they have nothing to do with media strategy.

I spent more than a decade in television news in New York – with two different networks – so you can safely assume I know a lot of journalists in print and television. And while business owners may think that will get their business on the news, here’s the truth is: it won’t. A successful media campaign requires a strong, timely narrative, it needs solid execution and timely components.

I’d also say a generalist is better than a specialist when it comes to PR because a generalist can better explain a complicated product or service without industry jargon. In today’s vastly changing world of journalism, there are fewer specialists and more generalists reporters. A great publicist will know how to explain products or complicated services on a broader, larger term.

Here are some questions that will help your due diligence the next time you are hiring a PR firm.

1) What is your strategy for placements?

Strategy is the most important component behind every media placement. Make sure you understand the media strategy proposed by the PR firm. Force them to give you specifics on the media execution.

2) How would you position my product or service?

This question reveals how well the PR firm understands your brand. Make the publicist or PR team elaborate on how they see your product or service. Don’t stress if it sounds like they don’t quickly grasp your product or service. This could actually work to your advantage since he or she will likely be asking questions other journalists may want to know. This understanding is one reason why I prefer generalists to specialists. Generalists must learn how to communicate the insider lingo or industry jargon to journalists who are not specialists. During my time in the media, specialists rarely could communicate a specialized product in a broader term that mattered to the majority of consumers.

3) Will I work with you or is someone else developing my media strategy?

Many of the large PR firms send their best sales person to get your business, but after they win your account, they send your work to an inexperienced college grad. How do I know this? Throughout my career at NBC and CBS, the VPs and SVPs would take me out for drinks, while their inexperienced “team members” would pitch me generic ideas. Make sure you know the person who is developing your strategy and representing your company to journalists.

4) What media have you secured for your clients?

Media placements are the calling card for PR and the more diverse the placements, the more talented the PR firm. My PR firm has secured prominent news stories for our clients with the New York Times, New York Post, Good Morning America, CNN en Español, Fox News, Cosmo, TechCrunch, Entrepreneur Magazine. And – these placements were for clients in different industries – tech, political, finance, nonprofits, etc. The more diverse a portfolio, the better understanding this PR firm has of media strategy. Also, don’t assume a specialist makes for a better publicist. I would want to hire a generalist over a specialist because their approach will likely be more creative based on their outside experience.

5) When can we see results based on your experiences?

This question allows you to see how confident the PR team is with your potential business. I’m not giving away my answers to this question, but you should ask it and feel comfortable with the answer.

6) What is your experience?

Experience matters in life, and it is equally important with PR. Many firms like to hire great sales people because they assume they can sell a story to the media. PR is not about sales. It’s about understanding what a reporter needs to get a story sold to his editor. It requires a strong narrative, timely component and assessment of the competition. Personally, I look for critical thinking skills when hiring my PR team members because I know that skill will be used more than a sales skill.

7) Why is your PR firm better than others?

Force the PR firm to sell itself. Yes – this might sound like it contradicts the previous question, but it allows you to see how confident the company or publicist is with their experience. Here’s a clue: listen for objective reasons on why their PR firm is the best. Don’t fall for “subjective” sales pitches, which are really nothing more than an opinion.

8) What if we don’t get along or I’m not happy with the results?

Relationships matter in business. Chemistry doesn’t work for everyone. Make sure the PR contacts allows you to switch publicists or team leaders if you don’t get along with the team leader or begin to lose faith in their media strategy.

Public relations is a cluttered space and unfortunately, anyone can call himself a publicist. This is why you must do your own due diligence to ensure you’re hiring the best PR firm for your business. BTW, Macias PR was named the 2015 top “PR Consultant Firm of the Year – USA” by Finance Monthly. And that recognition came from their journalists – not some PR team…. just saying…

Macias PR was named the 2016 “Financial PR Firm of the Year – USA” and the 2015 “PR Consultant Firm of the Year – USA” by Finance Monthly. We have launched and led media campaigns for clients in healthcare, finance, tech and the nonprofit sectors. The founder of Macias PR – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He is also a PR contributor with CNBC, providing media analysis, insight and crisis advice on timely business topics.

Top Financial PR Firms – A Global Trend Story

By Mark Macias

I recently read a story in the Financial Times, Financial PR spins a new global story, which takes a closer look at the evolution of financial PR in the UK and USA.

Their article described how the biggest PR firms are consolidating and in many cases, putting the PR boutique business models under pressure to sell to the global PR giants. As the owner of Macias PR, I am always trying to stay ahead of the trends on where my industry is going and how it is evolving.

The PR industry is quickly evolving into a content-marketing oriented business model that places a larger emphasis in reaching the online reader. If your product or service is not on the first few pages of Google, your business doesn’t exist. But getting your website on the first few pages of the search engines is more than an SEO strategy. It begins with content marketing.

At the same time, clients are also placing a larger emphasis and desire to get their stories told with the largest media publications. Bigger and smaller brands are realizing it is harder to get their company above the clutter, but a big story in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Post or their local newspaper, gets consumers talking instantly.

This approach also applies to industry PR. A reporter with Bloomberg News, CNBC and Fox Business News all appeal to a business audience, but they are vastly different with editorial. A successful media strategy takes this editorial into account when identifying a media strategy.

Finally, this FT article explored a disturbing trend that is hitting the PR industry: multi-nationals and global conglomerates, like PWC and McKinsey, are buying PR firms because they see their value. This is bad for all businesses that hire those global financial PR companies. These consultancies might be great at tax law and regulatory matters, but the media is neither.

As your business begins looking for a PR firm, take time to research the owners or specialists who will be leading your media campaign. Don’t be deceived by big-name PR firms that razzle and dazzle you with power point presentations. During my time consulting global PR firms, I saw how great sales people sold PR to clients, even though they know nothing about PR or the media.

I hope if you Google the top financial pr firms in NYC, you will see Macias PR on the first page – and read why we were named the PR Consultant Firm of the Year – USA by Finance Monthly. And for the record, we were the only PR firm named in that bracket by their financial journalists.


Macias PR Releases Milestones from March & April 2016

By Mark Macias

How do you measure a successful Financial PR campaign? It begins with media placements, which is why our team is excited to reveal the media milestones we secured for our clients during the 1st quarter of 2016.

Just in March and April alone, Macias PR secured multiple stories for our clients with Barron’s Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Reuters, The Financial Times, MSN Money, The Street, Kiplingers, US News & World Report, NBC News, The San Antonio Express, Crain’s New York, KSAT-TV, the largest Spanish newspaper in New York, El Diario, and other financial trade publications.

In the financial sector, Macias PR secured media placements for our asset management and fintech clients with the Wall Street Journal, two prominent Sunday stories in Barron’s Magazine, two stories in The Financial Times, an editorial in Kiplinger’s Magazine, analysis in TheStreet.com, a story on CNBC, financial analysis with MSN Money, a nationally syndicated story with Reuters, and two stories with the banking trade magazine, The American Banker.

Macias PR also ran a media campaign in the first quarter of 2016 for a national nonprofit organization that helps veterans with VA housing and financial literacy. That media campaign targeted veterans and military families in San Antonio, Texas where Macias PR secured prominent news stories with the largest local newspaper in San Antonio and several TV segments on the local news.

Macias PR, which was named the 2015 top “PR Consultant Firm of the Year – USA” by Finance Monthly, led media campaigns in the first quarter of 2016 for an asset management firm, a Congressional candidate, a prominent lending organization, a national nonprofit organization, a fintech client and a healthcare organization.

When you score big, it feels good. You also need to reflect and appreciate the moment. Here’s a sizzle reel showcasing how we felt

Now – onto the media campaigns. Will the next big story the media covers involve your company?

How do you measure PR campaign success?

By Mark Macias

Clients are always asking us, “how do you measure PR campaign success?” Media placements are one of the easiest ways to evaluate the success of a PR campaign because it is measurable by viewers, influence and conversation.

Roughly 5 million people pick up the Wall Street Journal daily – and that doesn’t include the number of online readers who find their stories from search engines, news sources or social media feeds. A story in the WSJ  reaches influencers who lead the conversation. It brings credibility and exposure that no amount of introductions can make in a single day.

So how does Macias PR compare when it comes to media placements? Here’s our showcase reel of what we have delivered for our clients with the media. Oh – and this is only from the past 30 days. We don’t brag. We just work harder and think smarter.


Macias PR – Gives Publicity and Branding Advice on TV

Mark Macias of Macias PR was recently on Channel 3 in Phoenix, giving publicity and branding advice to personalities and business owners. The segment focused around two mobile apps that were created by Macias PR – Blush No More and The Publicity App.

Blush No More is a communications app that helps people in awkward social situations while The Publicity App helps businesses with a preliminary PR map. Watch the video as our founder explains what inspired the mobile apps.