Most people in general are clueless when it comes to hiring the "right" publicist for them. Many people do not even know what a publicist does and most people assume they are going to be put on Oprah (not happening). Here are a couple of key questions to ask when you are looking to hire someone to publicize your book/product/company.
1. What is your area of expertise? A PR company who says they specialize in everything most likely does not have coverage for every product and every start up. Also, you do not want to hire a PR company to promote your health product if they specialize in the automotive industry. Make sure you find the best fit for you.
2. What actual media coverage have you gotten for your clients? PR coverage is never guaranteed, but a PR company should be able to provide coverage lists, as well as references.
3. What does PR mean to your company? Do you want speaking gigs, book signings, social media marketing or just media relations? Look at how you want to promote your product or service and make sure the company you hire can incorporate all areas of interest.
4. Where do you get your media contact lists? Now, most people can boast they are friends with every media personality on the planet, but that is truly not the case. Most PR companies have to buy lists, and buy new ones the following year so they are updated or fresh. The best type of list subscription a PR firm can have goes by the name of Vocus and is one of the most extensive & targeted database that exists. What does that mean? I can plug in a term like "senior" and have every relative producer, editor, and online website come up in a search with contacts who cover anything pertaining to seniors. The results speak for themselves with actual media requests.
My point? Don't be afraid to ask away.