Frequently Asked Questions
As trusted counsel to hundreds of companies over the years, Beyond Fifteen has noted that many brands come to us with very similar questions about our industry, how it can benefit their companies, and how to ensure their approach is strategic.
Public relations can encompass a lot of tactics. Therefore, you should look for a PR agency that creates a tailored approach to achieve your specific goals. A PR agency should serve as a true partner, invested in your success, and work collaboratively with your team. More than just doers, a strategic PR partner can provide advice and recommendations in real-time to ensure you get the best possible results.
Companies choose to engage with a PR agency for a variety of reasons – such as growing product awareness, creating brand loyalty, educating customers about a problem and solution or improving overall reputation over the competition. Therefore, there are a variety of ways to evaluate a PR agency. When assessing a potential partner, ask what key performance indicators (KPIs) they track, including media placements, impressions, share of voice, website traffic, backlinks and more. A strong partner will have multiple ways they track and report data to ensure you are reaching your goals.
Public relations and advertising are two different approaches and serve different purposes. Simply put advertising is a paid effort and often more sales or brand-focused and PR is earned and typically more educational and thought leadership focused. Therefore, neither PR nor advertising are strictly better than the other, but here are some benefits of PR.
TRUST: If you’re looking to improve brand image or establish your brand as a leader in the industry, then PR is likely the way to go. Public relations is inherently more trustworthy to a consumer than advertising. As consumers become savvier, they don’t like to be sold but rather informed and seek out validation from credible sources, therefore having your content included in an earned media placement can help build trust.
COST: Advertising requires a monetary investment to ensure content is delivered to the right audience, whereas public relations does not require an exchange of money to be featured in a publication. The investment is in the content development versus the promotion.
Not all PR firms offer reputation management services. Reputation management can be anything from engaging with your target community online to build rapport, chatting back and forth with customers on social media, issuing corrective statements to the press or assisting in recovery after receiving bad news coverage.
Despite what you may think, PR is for businesses of all sizes and even solopreneurs. Since PR is about getting your business in front of the media and helping guide your brand’s voice and messaging, it can actually help level the playing field and allow smaller brands to compete on a wider stage. Imagine a dedicated team working to get your business the attention it deserves!
A PR team can help you or your business gain coveted earned media. Earned media is exposure in those outlets that are covering you or your brand because you have something exciting to say or something important to contribute. (We think this type of feature editorial coverage is far more powerful than an ad, which many people will flip or scroll past!) For a smaller business or sole proprietor that may not automatically catch the attention of a reporter or news outlet, having someone pitch and promote your company can help you get important coverage. A PR professional can also help cultivate the right message for your social channels and brand outreach, pitch editorial contacts, share news through social media posts and press releases and follow up with those contacts to secure earned content.
PR is also ideal for executives or sole proprietors looking to boost their reputation and credibility. Becoming a well-respected leader in your industry can be tricky, especially when you have your sights on sales or client acquisition. Beyond Fifteen’s Executive Spotlight Program can help you become a thought leader through targeted blogs and articles, shaping your social presence and submitting you or your company for awards and recognitions. These are just a few ways in which PR can help a business of any size.
Are strategies feeling stale? Do you feel like you are on repeat? Is coverage dwindling? It might be time to take your PR to the next level. If fresh ideas from your internal team have dried up and everything is feeling like it came from a cookie cutter idea of what PR should be, shake things up! An agency can take you to the next level – bringing together collective experience, experts in a wide array of business areas, dedicated staff, brilliant strategists and out-of-the-box thinkers to direct their best ideas toward your brand.
The decision to hire an agency depends on a lot of different factors including your PR needs, budget, knowledge and time available to dedicate to PR initiatives. Most businesses will find that hiring an agency gets them everything they need at a reasonable level of investment. When you hire Beyond Fifteen not only do you get a team of PR professionals that will dedicate time to capturing your company big media wins, but you get specialists in a variety of areas. We have experts in strategy, social media, graphic design, influencer marketing, writing, photo, video and thought leadership. Working with an agency takes that burden off of the business and allows your company the flexibility to tap those resources as needed.
Want to boost sales? PR is a great way to do that! PR works best when in direct collaboration with your sales team, creating one congruent experience for your customer. Here are just a few ways in which PR and sales can work together:
Exposure is Good for All: It’s hard being a salesperson, especially when initially getting in the door to introduce the company. However, PR can lay the groundwork by helping your company get exposure. Instead of getting, “You’re calling from where?” from customers, how refreshing would it be for your salespeople to reach out to a target market that’s already familiar with the brand?
Building Credibility: Thought leadership is the name, and credibility is the game! When your leaders are featured in reputable publications, it can open the door for sales, as it proves that the company is at the top of its game and knows what it’s talking about.
Creating Social Content: PR wins are also a great item to promote on social media. Because they provide such valuable third-party credibility, most companies will share their media placements online to increase exposure for wins. Many also invest in “boosting” the posts to reach specific target audiences or decision-makers. Right message, right audiences, right time.
Check out this Forbes article written by our co-founder, Leslie Licano, for more info on why the best PR works hand in hand with sales.
As the saying goes, good things come in small packages. That’s true with public relations firms as well. You don’t need a big internal PR department or to sign with a large global firm to receive excellent PR services. A small or mid-sized boutique agency can offer a lot, and sometimes in a more nimble and productive manner.
Flexibility – With a smaller and nimbler team, boutique firms have the flexibility to turn on a dime. The CEO is often the senior team leader as well. They’re involved with strategy every step of the way, so the flexibility to try something or change plans is right there on the conference call with you.
Innovation – Boutique firms are able to provide innovation in ways big firms might not. A large firm has a lot of employees, often with very defined roles. A smaller firm is able to act on an innovative idea quickly because it’s all-hands-on-deck. The entire team is constantly thinking about and reaching for innovative ideas.
Attention – There’s a level of personalized service that comes with being at a boutique firm. Everyone will know what’s happening with your account, and leadership is involved on a daily basis.
Your PR team is a vital part of your success. At a boutique firm, the team is also a vital part of their success. The owner has personally hired each employee to make a well-rounded team, with everyone invested in the success of your business.
Not all agencies provide the same services. Some agencies specialize in traditional media relations, such as securing news articles and interviews. Some may focus on new media such as social content and website development. Others will take an approach that mixes both for a well-rounded PR experience all under one roof.
The important thing to remember is that any PR strategy for your company should be unique to your needs. We hand-select strategies and approaches that are a perfect fit for your business and your specific goals. A partnership with Beyond Fifteen is a smart investment in a team of communications professionals who are focused on the long-term success of your company. We’ll kick off our relationship with a brand audit, involving a deep dive into your products and services, including understanding your specific business goals, prior and existing strategies and more. We’ll then apply our learnings and insights and customize a solid, ongoing program for your brand.
Be wary of firms with package deals that offer set pricing for a one-size-fits-all program. It may sound tempting, but what often happens is that these packages leave business owners lacking vital support for their business while having them pay for things they don’t really need. Every client is special, and the services received should be as well.
For the most part, we believe that a strong, omni-channel approach can be driven from one PR agency. To best maximize efforts with an omni-channel approach, it’s ideal for everyone to be on the same page, which usually means working from within the same agency. This allows the team to extend your reach and make the most of your budget by adopting an integrated mix of paid, earned and owned media programs stemming from the same strategy. Since there are a lot of moving parts in this type of marcom plan, having one team lead the way can be helpful.
By including both earned and owned media programs, your company will stretch the budget, so to speak, by using these cost-effective and impactful resources. Owned media such as blogs, social media content, thought leadership efforts and website updates are an affordable way to spread your company’s message. This type of content could also lead to earned media such as articles in the press, interviews or being quoted as an expert. By having one team that is involved with all aspects of your media plan, your company will have a comprehensive, yet efficient, strategy for the year.
That being said, we do play well with others! In certain cases, there are benefits to bringing in another agency for specific work depending on our clients’ needs. While it’s ideal for strategy to be driven from one team, we work well with other agencies and are always open to being part of a multi-faceted support system for our clients.
Determining which agency is the right fit for your company can seem like a monumental task. The fact is, with a little bit of research on your part, you can have confidence in selecting the right PR team. Here are a few things to consider when finding the right fit:
Take time to align on priorities – Is the agency interested in what you have to say and the business goals you have described? Make sure that your priorities and the agency’s priorities are aligned. If you’re looking to boost media exposure and the agency is not interested in pitching your brand, it might be time to move on.
Personalized attention – Make sure that the PR firm will sit down with you on a regular basis to touch base and determine next steps. A PR firm is an investment in your brand’s future, so you’ll want to know that things are on track and be able to ask questions.
Assess their past work – Ask for references, case studies and samples of their work. Does it seem like they are knowledgeable? Do you like what they’ve done for other companies? If you’re seeing their work and you’re excited about what the team will be able to do for your brand, you’re probably on the right track!
Talk to their team – Make sure you get to meet the team that will be working on your account. Talk to them and get a feel for their level of experience and personalities. Do they seem excited and happy to be working on your account? Can you see yourself interacting with them on a regular basis via email or phone calls? Make sure there’s a good vibe between you and those that will be in charge of your success.
By investigating a few areas and asking for supportive documents, you’ll be able to determine if the PR agency you’re considering is the right fit for your company.
The decision to contract with an agency or hire in-house depends on different factors including your PR needs, budget, knowledge and time available to dedicate to PR initiatives. Some large global companies find that they have the need, budget and staffing bandwidth to hire a team in-house, but that can be costly as you might imagine. Most businesses will find that hiring an agency gets them everything they need at a reasonable level of investment.
For example, when you hire Beyond Fifteen, not only do you get a team of PR professionals that will dedicate time to capturing your company big media wins, but you get specialists in a variety of areas. We have experts in strategy, social media, graphic design, influencer marketing, writing, photo and video and thought leadership. When you consider how large a team you would need to hire in-house to get all of these services, it can be overwhelming. Working with an agency takes that burden off of the business and allows your company the flexibility to tap those resources as needed.
You might think that PR and sales are two separate facets of your business, but the best PR works with sales to create one congruent experience for your customer. When information is shared across PR and sales, the likelihood of both teams reaching the target market is increased.
Your sales team can be supported in a variety of ways. PR can build credibility for your company by securing features in reputable publications that are read by your industry – reaching targets quickly and efficiently. This also lays the groundwork for your company name to be recognized so that when the sales team reaches out to connect with consumers, they are familiar with the brand from the start — warming up your leads before they even reach out.
These PR wins can also give the sales team a reason to follow up by providing the opportunity to send a link to a feature and reopen a conversation that had previously been closed.
The main difference between PR and advertising is that one is considered earned media and the other is paid media. Earned media is exposure in those outlets that are covering you or your brand because you have something exciting to say or something important to contribute. This includes news stories, feature stories or profiles and even shares and reposts of your content. A PR professional can help you get these placements by cultivating the right message for your brand outreach, pitching editorial contacts, sharing news through social media posts and press releases and following up with those contacts to secure that earned content.
Paid media is what you would consider traditional advertising. This could be a print advertisement, television placement, or in the digital world sponsored/promoted posts or pay-per-click (PPC) placements. This also includes “pay to play” placements where you purchase the opportunity to be featured in a spotlight or in a specific publication. This isn’t a bad way to go depending on your objectives and budget, but it’s not what you want leading your message and outreach.
There’s trust and transparency associated with earned media, and that kind of authenticity is coveted and desired in today’s communication landscape. Learn more about why it’s best to lead with earned media.
Is your business ready for a PR agency? Every successful business plan must implement a public relations strategy that is robust and flexible. But, does that mean you need an agency? It depends on your public relations goals, budget and experience. An agency will provide you with a lot of value and opportunities that you might miss if you decide to do your PR yourself. It’s what we do! We know the ins and outs of public relations strategies, we have the knowledge needed to create a dynamic plan and we have the time, important media relationships and key insights to dedicate to reach your PR goals.
Having an agency handle your PR is essentially hiring an entire team of experts to make sure your business gets the exposure and attention it deserves. However, it won’t make sense for certain business goals and budgets, so having an open and honest conversation with your agency about what you want to accomplish and what you can invest to reach those goals will be important.
Having a thought leader on your team is no longer a nice to have – it’s a must have. Thought leadership can boost the perception of your business and create a specific type of value that regular marketing tactics simply can’t provide. A thought leader is a person or expert that is well regarded in your industry and to whom others look for guidance. Having a person that can answer your industry’s or consumer’s major questions can be a big advantage to your company. Not only does it advance the reputation of your business, it can even help you get press coverage and put you at the forefront of the news with earned media.
In order to ensure that your thought leader is most effective, select someone that has the right depth and breadth of knowledge to guide forward-thinking conversations about your industry. Thought leadership can provide two very important avenues of reaching your customers: through their own content and postings, and through the press. As an expert, their thoughts and guidance will be sought after, not only bringing attention to them as people, but to your business as well through association.
Check out these tips for discovering your thought leadership topics.
Measuring the impact and effectiveness of public relations efforts can be complicated. It’s unfortunately not as straightforward as, for example, measuring the success of a properly tracked digital advertising campaign. Having said that, there are various models that seek to assign a measurement to public relations activity. Beyond Fifteen looks at:
- Goal setting
- Measuring outputs
- Changes in organizational performance
- Tracking and measuring impressions (positive, negative or neutral)
- Determining the quality of coverage
- Focus on engagement
- Transparent, consistent and valid tracking
The key is to have clearly established public relations goals so that measurement can be based on reaching those goals. Goals may include securing coverage in specific publications or reaching a variety of engagement milestones.
Your social media accounts represent your brand in a very personal way to your key target markets. Using these accounts to promote a variety of content not only will keep the interest of your followers but can help you drive inbound traffic. One way to do this is to use social media to promote your other owned media. Blogs, articles, whitepapers and other website content can be promoted with a link out to the desired page of visit.
Also, try sharing your earned media through your social pages. It’s great for your target market to see that your brand is contributing to the overall conversation of your industry. Any media stories or features should be linked to your website, driving additional inbound traffic. Even if it’s an interview with your CEO in an industry-specific source.
Social media also gives brands the opportunity to engage directly with their target market… their followers! Followers can like and share content, giving a boost to the brand’s reach. Additionally, as followers comment on posts, the brand has the ability to reply back. Smart brands don’t squander this direct line of communication, instead capturing the chance to thank followers for their interest, answer questions, show the brand personality, offer suggestions with links to helpful products or information or to professionally address concerns.
Social media has become an integral part of public relations. After all, when you’re communicating on social media you’re communicating with the public – it’s a direct line to your target market. A firm that specializes in social media will not only be able to professionally and expertly handle your presence online but will be able to leverage your social media content to positively impact your overall public relations goals, which is ideal.
Securing an influencer relationship is one of the many ways in which we can promote a brand and gain impressions and engagement. An influencer is a person or company that has the ability to shape purchase decisions from a target market. Influencers most often work through social media to create posts that drive interest and recognition in a brand or product. Influencer marketing could be the right fit for your brand depending on your product and public relations goals.
If you decide that using an influencer makes sense for your brand, there’s a lot to consider when selecting that perfect fit. Look for key signs of authenticity such as speaking plainly, being honest and showing their personality. Determine if the influencer’s posting style would mesh well with your brand. Take a moment to check out the influencer’s other brand partners. You don’t want to be with an influencer that’s promoting a direct competitor, but you’ll want to be with other brands that make sense.
Cultivating a positive relationship with an influencer these days takes more than free product or payment – it’s about creating an exciting experience to get them interested in the brand. Many influencers are looking for partnerships that have long-term possibilities.
It’s a common question and you probably won’t like the answer: it varies. There’s no standard number of posts per week that guarantees success. However, there are a few general guidelines you can follow to make sure your brand is getting the most out of their social media posts.
The first step is to determine which social media platforms are the best fit to reach your target market. There’s a common misconception that brands should be on all platforms and that simply isn’t true. Your brand might be best suited for Facebook and LinkedIn. Or, perhaps Instagram and Snapchat are where you’ll find your target market. You’ll get the most out of your posts and budget it you narrow in on the top two to four platforms.
From that point, you can then start creating content and posting. You’ll want to track your engagement (likes, comments and shares) to see not only which posts get the most interaction, but to also help determine if you’re posting too little or too much. Fluctuations in engagement and consumer response can tell you a lot about when you’ve reached optimal posting capacity.
The Google Partner badge is awarded to companies with expert-level Google Ads product knowledge. Partners receive training, support, and insights that keep their skills sharp and help drive campaign success. Google Partners are recognized for having the Google Ads skills and expertise to optimize your campaigns and help you get results. Learn more about the Google Partners program and the requirements to become a Partner or Premier Partner. Beyond Fifteen Communications has met all of the requirements to be a Partner based on the following three qualifications:
Beyond Fifteen Communications has maintained an optimization score of at least 70%, indicating that they’ve set up their clients’ accounts to perform well.
Beyond Fifteen Communications has managed at least $10,000 USD in ad spend in the past 90 days, which shows its ability to help clients consistently identify new growth opportunities and sustain their success on an ongoing basis.
Beyond Fifteen Communications has at least 3 account strategist(s), and at least 50% of them have demonstrated proficiency in Google Ads by earning Google Ads certifications.
Selecting the right PR firm is important. Here are some things to look for when selecting a PR firm to drive your business to success:
Bait and switch – Ask questions about who will be managing your account. Keep an eye out for a high-level, high-pressure sales team that will then pass you off to junior staff. You’ll want the best overseeing your company’s PR strategy, so make sure senior account managers will still be involved once you sign on the dotted line.
Track record of success – Get to know your potential firm as if you’re hiring them for a job… because you basically are! Learn how long the PR firm you’re hiring has been in business. Ask if your new firm has worked with clients in your space. Do they already have positive relationships with journalists from publications with which you hope to engage? Request case studies that demonstrate their success across a wide array of businesses.
Team approach – Determine who will be handling your account. Will everything be on the shoulders of one person and if they leave or go on vacation does everything come to a halt? Make sure you’re reaping the benefits of a team approach, where a group of professionals is invested in your success.
Care – Do you feel good about the team handling your account, and does the firm seem like they will give your brand the time and attention it deserves? Make sure you won’t feel like another cog in the wheel. It’s a good idea to call references and see what other clients say about the level of care provided to their accounts.
Managing your credibility online is an important part of today’s professional environment, but it can be tricky. Sometimes using your position of influence to solve all of your consumers’ problems with your products can hurt you. People don’t typically want to be “sold,” and often leaders that take every opportunity to sell can suffer from a poor reputation. When people see that you’re primarily promoting yourself and your product they start to value your opinion less.
Becoming a well-respected leader in your industry can be complicated, especially when you have your sights on sales.
There are a few ways in which you can improve your credibility online including becoming a thought leader, helping others without directly selling your product, being an authentic communicator and staying informed about your industry. The best tactic is to use your position of influence to contribute to your industry on a larger scale.