Apple's App Store and Google Play receive more than 1,000 app submissions every day.
The result is an incredibly crowded field in which success requires more than a spectacular app. In order to love your app, users first have to discover and download it. Getting an app discovered is both an art and a science that requires expertise, experience, and familiarity with the mobile tech world.
You can thwart your app's potential by attempting this on your own, which is why more and more developers are turning to app PR or digital PR agencies for help. In the app PR industry, you'll typically find boutique agencies — smaller operations with smaller prices — and large PR corporations with big price tags. If you're considering hiring a boutique digital PR agency, here are some tips to guide you through the process.
Look for an Agency with Specialized Expertise
Smaller PR firms tend to specialize in one or two niche areas. You'll definitely want a firm with specialized expertise in app PR, for one. Depending on the type of app you have, you may even want to find an agency that specializes even further. For example, if you want to promote a gaming app, you might choose a boutique app PR firm that specializes in mobile and indie games.
Larger PR firms are unlikely to have the expertise that smaller, more specialized agencies do. While large companies might have some experience doing app PR, for example, it probably only constitutes a fraction of the business they do. By contrast, in hiring a boutique company, you're likely to deal with people who do app PR exclusively.
Don't Be Put off by an Agency That Says "No"
A credible app PR agency won't compromise their results and transparency with a shaky app just for a paycheck. If your app isn't ready to go to market, the biggest favor a PR agency can do for you is tell you "no," meaning "not yet." In deciding on a PR firm, be open to constructive criticism. Especially with boutique firms, they have seen how the app industry works from the inside out, and they know what does and doesn't work. If a prospective agency has advice for you before they will proceed, take it.
Find out to Whom Your Account Will Be Assigned
Large digital PR agencies often engage in a bait-and-switch tactic when it comes to the talent assigned to your account. You might be reeled in by an industry all-star to sign a contract. Then, before you know it, your account falls into the hands of a brand-new practitioner, intern, etc.
You can usually expect to have access to senior-level practitioners at boutique PR firms. With some boutique agencies, in fact, it's not uncommon to have the firm's owner involved in the daily activities of bigger accounts. You want to make sure that the firm you're considering can offer you this benefit, so ask who the primary point of contact for your account will be.
Ask for Case Studies of Past Clients with Comparable Budgets
"What can you do for someone like me" is one of the most critical questions to ask prospective PR consultants. A multinational PR agency might have an impressive list of big-name clients, but that doesn't necessarily mean much for your app.
One of the many benefits of dealing with a boutique app PR company is that they're usually willing to go the extra mile for your business. Any agency you're considering should have several detailed case studies of past clients with similar budgets to yours. These exemplars should clearly show how the agency employed traditional and digital PR strategies to achieve the client's objectives.
Explore Long-Term Strategies for Sustaining Your Brand
It's common for clients to approach boutique PR agencies with a budget that's big enough to launch an app but inadequate to sustain long-term growth. A good PR firm will explain the importance of keeping your brand relevant in the long run and how much it will cost to do that. Keep in mind that finding a blogger or two to feature your app prior to launch is not difficult for PR professionals. The challenge comes in growing your app's reputation long after launch day.
Ask your PR consultants what they plan to do to keep driving growth for your app. A reputable agency will be up front with you about the expense of a long-term campaign and how to budget for it. For example, they might suggest reserving a portion of your launch budget for long-term efforts or suggest paying an amount to keep them on retainer.
Going to a multinational PR firm for app PR would be like going to a general care physician for hip surgery. Apps are a highly specialized niche within the digital world, and a boutique agency will have what it takes to see your app through to success.