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Facing a PR Nightmare? Here's What to Look for in a PR Firm for Reputation Management and Defense Every executive's worst nightmare is that your brand or someone in the company makes a reputation-destroying blunder. Whether intentional or not, the damage is done, and executives must take immediate action.

By Adam Horlock Edited by Maria Bailey

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every executive's worst nightmare is that your brand or someone in the company makes a reputation-destroying blunder. Whether intentional or not, the damage is done and executives must take immediate action. The best way to handle this situation is to hire an innovative, tactical public relations firm with a strategy-based method to counteract negative press.

Too many times, companies look to their internal marketing team for solutions. Yet, these teams are too close to the problem to implement solutions that an outside firm could implement more efficiently. But what should an executive look for when choosing a PR firm?

Related: What to Do When You Wake Up to a PR Crisis

Tactical strategy

When choosing a PR firm, it is crucial to find one that will provide more than just press releases, as the firm will need to develop an overarching strategy for reputation management. Your chosen PR firm should be able to anticipate potential risks and plan for potential opportunities. They should also be able to monitor and respond quickly to new developments and changing circumstances. A good PR firm will understand how to effectively manage the media while developing relationships with journalists and influencers who can help spread positive messages about your company.

Industry experience

Finding a PR firm with experience working in your particular industry or sector is also essential. This way, they will understand the industry's nuances and any prevailing trends that could benefit your situation. Working with an experienced PR team can ensure that your messaging is on point and appropriate when addressing specific issues within an industry niche or target market segment.

Related: A 3-Step Plan for Handling Any PR Crisis

Ability to craft a unique strategy

No companies are alike, and different situations require different tactics. The chosen PR firm must be able to craft a unique strategy tailored specifically to your company's needs rather than using an off-the-shelf approach that does not consider individual nuances. A good PR firm will begin by understanding your brand and learning about its history, values, mission statement and goals before crafting a plan based on all these factors, industry trends and insights from its research teams.

Working on PR strategy is about more than PR campaigns. Developing a sound PR strategy also involves identifying leaders who could be likely to make mistakes that could have implications for the company's reputation and PR strategy. Continuous PR blunders can be detrimental to companies, disrupting the message pushed through current PR strategies and leading to further confusion in PR efforts. Thoughtful reputation management means ensuring all voices, from C-suite executives to employees, stay aligned with the PR goals of the company. Companies must implement preventative measures that uphold their public image and minimize any mistakes, particularly when it comes to leaders within the organization. These preventive measures must be part of the strategy offered by the chosen PR firm.

Understanding of digital platforms

Any chosen PR firm must understand social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., as well as SEO optimization techniques that help increase visibility on search engines like Google. It is also vital that they understand various analytics tools that can evaluate performance across different platforms and measure success against predetermined goals in the initial strategy plan they craft. These metrics are invaluable in helping gauge progress throughout any reputation management campaign, so make sure your chosen agency understands how to track success through data-driven methods.


It is also important to inquire about their specific methodology when it comes to handling your particular situation. Understanding a PR firm's methods in the reputation management campaign is paramount. It is critical to seek out PR firms that can tailor their approach to fit your objectives, whether bolstering an existing positive reputation with an online article campaign or constructing a series of interviews to get new messaging out to the public. As such, ask each PR firm what methodologies they will employ to ensure that you hire the best-suited PR team to meet your needs and secure lasting success.

Communication style

At times like these, communication is critical, so be sure to ask potential PR firms about their communication style before hiring them. Do they provide regular updates on progress? Are they available 24/7 if needed? Can they quickly adjust the message strategy if required? These are all questions you should ask yourself when considering different PR firms for reputation management services; open communication between both parties is essential during times like these to ensure success.

Related: The Much-Anticipated "Great Recession of 2023" Is Coming. Here's How To Leverage PR During Economic Uncertainty

Track record of success

Finally, select a PR firm with a proven track record of success. Ask them about their big or small victories and how they achieved those outcomes for their clients. A good PR team will be able to share stories about how they were able to successfully turn around bad press or create positive sentiment around difficult situations. This proactive approach can mean salvaging your reputation or watching it burn.


Overall, when searching for a PR agency for reputation management and defense, there are several key factors that you should consider, including tactical strategy, industry experience, and past successes. The right agency will be able to develop an effective plan based on these criteria – ensuring quick action while mitigating further damage from negative press coverage or public scrutiny. By choosing wisely now, you can save yourself from much pain later.

Adam Horlock

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Chief Operating Officer, Edit Media Consulting

Adam Horlock is the Chief Operating Officer for Edit Media Consulting. His agency offers PR, social media and business consulting services to brands nationally. He has made numerous media appearances and continues to be a resource for entrepreneurs nationwide.

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