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Your Cheatsheet: 11 Killer Questions Founders and UK PR Managers Use When Interviewing PR Freelancers

Little time to prepare? These questions help you build a working relationship with your interviewees.

You’ve found your talented and trusted freelance matches from the Nibble database and you know they’ve got the right skills, experience and a track record for excellent results. Boxes ticked! 

But how do you go from that to picking the perfect PR partner for you? 

Two people at outdoor networking event

Imagine it’s like a speed dating event with lots of eligible people who could be right for you… you just need to ask the killer questions to find that special someone you are confident can be trusted with your brand or personal PR.

To guide you through this critical step, we’ve asked a wide-range of founders, startups and UK company PR managers for their go-to killer interview questions.

We know you’re busy and won’t have a lot of time to prepare so use this as your expert cheat sheet to help you find a freelance PR for hire. The following takes you through the whole stretch of the working relationship together to get a clear sense of how your interviewees will perform over the longer-term


"What motivates you? What fires up that PR passion?" -  Leon Rotherachef, serial entrepreneur and food consultant for brands, with a portfolio of successful businesses and clients

Only PRs passionate about your industry need apply here. 

If they can’t sell themselves at this first step, they’ll fall short when it comes to your product or service.

Ask what motivates them about their PR career and the project you have on offer.

This job is so often about creating excitement so you want to see them generating that buzz for you now - and picture how they will capture the attention of the journalists they will be pitching to


"You’ve got one minute to tell me why you’re the best match for this project?" - Susie Ashfield, speech expert, writer for CEOs and founder/MD of Speak2Impact

Ask yourself... What does this person in front of me bring to the project? 

It’s crucial here to get a quick sense of what they think is important from their specialisms and experience. If that doesn’t align with your own needs, they’re probably not right for you. 

We say do it in 60 seconds because that helps to show you what they’d be like trying to convince a journalist in that timeframe. If they can capture you fast, you’re on the way.


"What three things would your last client say you are amazing at - and what would they secretly complain about?" - Max Bramwell, founder of FounderPass, home of perks and discounts for founders and entrepreneurs 

You’ll want to hear about their talents first-hand but also understand where they might not be perfect. Honesty and transparency is a great quality in a PR. Often you just need someone to tell you straight up how it is.

That means you’re looking for someone to be clear with you about their positives, as well as the odd negative so you can gauge whether it’s a deal breaker or just a future learning area for you both.


"How well do you know my business/my industry?" - Oliver Hodgson, young entrepreneur and anti-bullying campaigner  

Your PR needs a good grounding in the area you work in, but that doesn’t mean they need to know it all. The best PRs are also expert at quickly swotting up on the nitty gritty of all kinds of weird and wonderful subjects (it’s why they make great dinner party guests).

Ask them what they think some of your PR challenges might be. This will show how realistic and frank they are - and you can compare notes from all of your interviewees to inform your future strategy. 


"Describe my ideal customer… what does their life look like?" - Sam Jupp, founder and MD of Motion

In public relations understanding the target audience is absolutely essential. 

Ask them to describe your customer and audience; their personality, their lifestyle, their hopes and dreams, even what supermarket they might shop at! Also find out what publications or channels they think they read, watch or listen to.


"OK, now tell me one idea or approach that would get us coverage?" - Brice Dondelinger, co-founder of Balloonary

As a PR, you often have to think on your feet in conversations with journalists so this will give you a good insight into their imagination and sort those who match with your own ideas and creativity from those who don’t. 

The idea or approach doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be good enough to spark your interest and make you think "Wow, we’re on the same page". 


"It’s not always what you know, so who do you know at this publication?" - Charles Robinson, CEO and founder, GelCard

You always need to have a great story in PR but relationships are still important. The better connected a PR is, the more useful they will be - as long as it’s in the right areas of campaign or project interest. 

Query their network. Now is your chance to find out the names of the journalists they deal with most, where those journalists work and ask for examples of how these relationships have benefited their campaigns in the past. You can do some research after to sense-check how relevant you think they will be to you.


"How will you define success?" - Alex Kergall, founder of Altior, high-performance coaching agency

PR is about results. That’s what you are paying for. But this is not advertising and so it takes an experienced PR to know how to build momentum with the right audiences to get brand engagement - from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. Sometimes results come even later because a journalist saved the story for a more opportune time.

Your PR interviewee should be able to give you a managed expectation of what success looks like against your campaign objectives. Then you decide if that feels right.


"How would you manage me?" - Andrew Stead, CEO and leadership coach

They might go a bit shy here but you want to know whether they can work with you and how they will get the best from this two-way relationship.

Ask about their working style, hours and patterns plus the processes they use too. Does it all sound like something - and someone - you can work with?

Don’t look for a ‘yes’ person. Having a PR able to stand firm their ground when they believe their idea or execution is right will always be a major bonus. 


"If we started tomorrow, what would you need from me?" - Paul Lock, award-winning modern artist 

If you’ve read our Onboarding Freelancers Explained guide, you'll know it's crucial to kick off right with your freelancer, so that they have everything they need for success. It’s also good to know now how your chosen PR would onboard you.

You must both communicate and collaborate throughout the project’s lifecycle and appreciate each other’s needs with information flowing freely both ways and on time.

Your experience, knowledge and wisdom - plus the outcomes you hope for - are a vital part of making this project a success, so drill down into what they’d like to know about you and decide if they’re asking the right questions.


"How will you deal with things when something goes wrong?" - Jodie Louise, founder of Inphinity Design

There will always be bumps in the road, and that’s fine, but you need to know how your PR will deal with them. That might be journalists asking the hard questions or the PR needing to keep people interested while they find out missing details.

Probe for real world examples when things didn’t go to plan and ask how they charted a new course or kept it all afloat. Check how they’d do that for you too.


Ultimately, the PR you choose becomes an extension of your team. A good working relationship is paramount to make your campaign stronger and more effective. 

After all of this questioning, you should feel like the person you’re set to choose wants the coverage as much (if not more) than you. That should be why they get out of bed in the mornings. Good luck!

Ready for some top-notch PR? Match with highly recommended freelance PRs who’ve got a track record for knocking it out the park. Get started here.

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