Starting a public relations agency can be a very lucrative business opportunity. There are many important steps to take in order to make sure your business is successful.
Here are the 10 steps you can take to get started on building your very own PR agency.
10 Steps to Launching a New Public Relations Agency
1. Choose Your Type of PR Agency
The first step in launching a PR agency is to identify the type of PR agency you want to launch. You might choose from the following types among others:
- Full-service PR agency: Offers a wide range of services, such as media relations, crisis management and event planning.
- Specialty PR firms: Focus is on one particular area of PR, such as social media marketing or product publicity.
- In-house agency: Created by businesses to manage their own PR needs.
2. Name Your PR Agency
Give your PR agency an identity so people will think of it as a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your PR agency from your industry, focus on a geographical location, or use your own name among other options.
The main goal for naming your PR agency is to make it sound appealing and trustworthy so that potential clients will be more likely to work with you.
3. Determine Your PR Agency Business Model
There are several possible types of business models for a PR agency including:
- Commission-based: Your company earns a commission on each project completed for a client.
- Retainer: Your company is paid a set-rate monthly fee by the client in exchange for your PR services.
- Pay-for-performance: Your company is paid according to the results achieved for your client; i.e. increasing sales or improving the client’s reputation.
No matter which model you choose, make sure that it aligns with your business goals and the services you offer.
Read more about choosing the right business model for your PR agency.
4. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business
By incorporating your PR agency, you will limit your liability. You can incorporate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a C Corporation (C-Corp), or an S Corporation (S-Corp). Or you can operate as a sole proprietorship.
The business structure you choose for your PR agency will determine the amount of taxes you pay and which state or federal tax forms you need to file.
5. Write a PR Agency Business Plan
All PR agency owners should develop a business plan.
A business plan is a document that outlines the goals, strategies, and operations of a business. It can be used to secure funding from investors or lenders, as well as to guide the day-to-day operations of the business. The business plan should include information on the company’s products or services, market analysis, financial projections, and management team among other things.
When developing your PR agency business plan and strategy, you should think about the following questions your customers might have:
- What services does your PR agency offer?
- How do you decide which clients to work with?
- Do you have any case studies or examples of successful projects?
- What is your process for working with a new client?
- How much do your services cost?
- Do you have experience in my industry?
- What makes your PR agency unique?
Answering these questions in your business plan will give potential customers a better understanding of what your PR agency can do for them.
Read our article about how to write a PR agency business plan.
6. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses
There may be required licenses and permits you need to obtain before launching your PR agency.
You must also register your PR agency as a legal entity with the state where you plan to do business. You can simply file an online form through your Secretary of State website.
Registering with the federal government is also essential so you can properly pay taxes for your business. You will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can apply for at the IRS website, if you plan to hire employees.
7. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed
In developing your PR agency business plan, you will figure out how much funding you need to start and grow your business.
If you have your own funds to invest in your PR agency, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to your personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your PR agency include traditional bank loans, SBA loans, credit cards, angel investors and family and friends.
Read our article about the costs associated with starting a PR agency to help you determine if funding is needed.
8. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently
When you start your PR agency, it’s essential to have the right technology in place to maximize efficiency. You definitely need a computer with Internet access, and accounting software for tracking expenses and revenues.
You may also want to invest in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, which can help keep track of your clients, media contacts, and employees.
9. Market Your PR Agency to Potential Clients
Before you start selling your services, you have to let the world know you exist. The first step is to create a website so people can learn more about your services and how they benefit them.
After you launch your website, start promoting it through social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Also consider networking with other people in the PR agency industry through social media and blogs so they can help share your business.
You also need to start gathering the materials needed to execute on your promotions strategy, which is your strategy for attracting new customers. PR agency businesses should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared:
- Host webinars or podcasts: present trends in PR and successful execution of campaigns.
- Give presentations: Speak at industry events to attract potential clients and partners.
- Write articles: Use your expertise as an author in trade publications and blog posts. Develop case studies of successful PR campaigns you’ve executed to show potential clients what you can do for them.
- Offer free consultations to potential clients so they can see the value of your services.
- Develop an email newsletter that highlights recent PR successes and tips for businesses looking to improve their own campaigns.
Read our article about how to market your PR agency for more tips.
10. Get New Clients & Grow Your Business
When you promote your services, you’ll start to get interest from potential clients.
Make sure you’re ready to serve these clients. Also, be sure to establish systems to ensure consistency and reduce costs. And be sure to find and train the right people to help you grow your PR agency.
Read our article about how to effectively grow your PR agency to learn more.
Starting a PR Agency FAQs
There are many reasons to start a PR agency, but the most common one is the desire to be your own boss. Other reasons include the ability to work with a variety of clients, the flexibility to set your own schedule, and the opportunity to make a good income.
There are several things you need to do to start a successful PR agency, including developing a niche, creating a business plan, establishing systems and procedures, finding the right people to help you, and marketing your services.
Starting a PR agency from home is definitely possible! It will require some adjustments to make it work: create a dedicated workspace in your home, set clear procedures and deadlines for yourself and develop a solid marketing plan.
Starting a PR agency online is possible! You'll need to make sure you have a strong presence on social media and other online platforms. You'll also need to create a website and blog so potential clients can learn more about your services.
Here are some tips for starting a PR agency:
- Develop a niche so you can be known for something specific.
- Create a business plan to help map out your goals and strategies.
- Find the right people to help you with your business.
- Marketing your services is essential to attract potential clients.
- Develop systems and procedures to help you run your business efficiently.
- Offer free consultations to potential clients so they can learn more about your services.
- Write articles for trade publications and blog posts about the latest PR trends.
- Host webinars or podcasts to discuss the latest trends in PR.
A simple checklist to use when starting a PR agency is as follows:
- Choose Your Type of PR Agency: This should be based on what you are best at and how much experience you have. Remember to keep your interests, skills, and experience in mind at all times.
- Name Your PR Agency: This should be done with care, as your brand is important for attracting the right customers. A simple, memorable name will go a long way.
- Choose a Legal Form for Your Business: Whether you choose to become a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation or another option will depend on your business. Ensure that you are aware of all the implications of each type.
- Determine Your PR Agency Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
- Write a PR Agency Business Plan: Your business plan will also help you determine what your start-up costs will be and will provide a roadmap with which you can launch and grow.
- Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses: In most locations you will be required to apply for a business license and/or permits before you can begin operations.
- Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed: You will need to know how much money you have to spend on all of your business-related expenses before opening any doors. If needed, apply for a small business loan or other funding options.
- Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently: You need to have the right tools in place to succeed. Implement software that will help you manage your time, contacts, and business operations in general.
- Market Your PR Agency to Potential Clients: A solid marketing plan will be crucial to your success. It should focus on attracting the right customers so that you can provide them with the services they truly need.
- Get Clients & Grow Your Business: Once you have a solid marketing plan, it's time to actively pursue and secure those who could benefit the most from your services.
Starting a PR agency requires effort, but with the right tools and advice in place, you can make it a success. Follow the steps outlined in this article to get started on the right foot and begin attracting the clients you need to grow your business.