Red flags in hiring a firm/PR freelancer

So you want PR for your company, but aren’t sure where to begin or even what to expect. One of the greatest pitfalls prospective clients fall into is failing to recognize when a public relations firm or person is too good to be true.

To avoid hiring a bogus PR firm or individual for your company you should look out for four major danger signs.


When you first approach a PR firm or person, companies should pay special attention to their pitch to win your business. Are they promising a feature in The New York Times within the first month? Maybe they are telling you that your name or your company’s name will be famous in a few weeks. Or even saying they will be able to improve your business trifold in a matter of days.

All of this sounds fairly ridiculous written out, but believe it or not, it is statements like these that lead many down a road of broken promises. Any professional PR firm or person would never promise a potential client any of these things.

Could a PR firm or person get you a feature in a top tier paper, make your company a respected brand and help your business? Yes, but PR results take time and builds upon itself. It is irresponsible for a firm to claim any of these markers within a matter of weeks.

Not understanding your business

To have a success PR plan, you need to have a PR team that understands your business. This doesn’t mean just knowing your company story, but also the industry itself. Any PR person who doesn’t know about significant events in your industry, such as that big pharma merger or a new legislation on mental health, will not be successful.

A huge red waving flag is if you read about an industry newsworthy event and were not included in the story – or at the very least told it was going on by your PR team. Your PR firm or person should always have a pulse on what’s going on and how they are fitting you into the story.

No references

Where’d you find this firm or person anyway? Was it on LinkedIn or through a friend? Or did you just Google “public relations firms [insert major city here]”? It is important that when you begin your search for a PR firm or person that you have good references. The references can be talking to their clients or friends who have used them to even researching their work. Never hire or even meet with a firm until you do your own detective work.

Not doing the work

We have had many clients who have hired us after being burned by a previous firm that didn’t do the work. This means, the other PR firm or person was constantly pinging the client for content. You are a busy person, PR should not take up 80 percent of your day job. Leave that to us.

If a firm or PR person isn’t able to go through a day or two without generating content (pitches, op-eds, talking points) on your behalf, then they aren’t doing their job.