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How to find the right media consultant for you

With the growth of independent media consultants, small PR firms and freelancers in the communication industry, business has never been so spoiled for choice when it comes to finding the right media advisor.

The changing media landscape has supported this rise in media consultants. Shrinking newsrooms and the high volume of journalists who have been made redundant has seen a deluge of qualified communicators and storytellers added to the mix. This burgeoning industry has also been fed by increased consumer demand for news and information across multiple platforms and in multiple formats.

The challenge now for all brands and business owners is finding the right media consultant, who fits with their ethos, message, direction and character. It isn’t that difficult, you just need to have the right questions ready before you hit the GO button.

Here’s five questions I would suggest you ask before you engage that consultant.

Can you tell me what challenges my industry faces? – Right off  the bat you can see if this consultant knows their stuff. They should be able to connect with you on multiple levels and the language they use should be similar to yours. They should know the historical issues of the industry, if any. They will also be able to highlight the opportunities, the possibility of generating stories and yarns for the future. In short they get the industry that they will be looking to communicate in. They may not be able to get micro, but they will have a good grasp.

Have you worked with a similar business within the industry? – Do they have a track record working with another business in the industry that they purport to be a consultant for? Do you know that business and is it held in high regard? Like a reference on a resume, the businesses a consultant claims to have worked with, are their references. If you are able, and it’s not commercially sensitive, check in with that business and see how it went for them.

Can you rattle off my top industry media? – If they can’t rattle off the top five media that you could work with, then walk away. Dive a little deeper and see which journalists they have worked with in the past and what their relationship is like with them. There are many PR agencies and consultants running around that have been blacklisted by media, so you really want to make sure you are investing in someone who has a relationship with your target media.

Have you got a case study of success in my industry? – Not just who have you worked with,  but do you have evidence of a campaign or a project that has been successful for a brand? This is pretty important as it will give you an indication if the consultant is capable of such a role and whether they are worth the dollars they have quoted. In my time I have seen too many consultants sitting on big retainers and not justifying their worth. A case study really helps you make the right decision about choosing media consultant.

If you are able to run these questions across any future media consultant you are in a very strong position to determine if they are right for you. There are so many advantages to having a consultant that fits with your business, that isn’t necessarily on the books full-time but available to you when you want and need them. The cost savings, the level of experience and knowledge, the impact and ability to tell your business story will all work in your favour.

By Nic Hayes, Managing Director, Media Stable.

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