How to Start a PR Agency: 10 Steps for Launch and Growth [Course & 20+ Templates]

Brand Strategy & Identity
Team Slam
Helping you win online

Starting your own Public Relations (PR) agency can be a rewarding venture, allowing you to leverage your communication skills to help businesses build and maintain a positive public image. In this article, we will:

  • Answer the question of how to start a PR agency
  • Share the ten steps to launch your PR agency both legally and operationally
  • Explain the associated startup costs
  • Plus, share essential agency tools to streamline your operations.

Starting your own agency, whether specializing in public relations or other digital marketing channels, demands an investment of countless hours. There are many tasks involved in starting an agency, ranging from hiring a bookkeeper to understanding the legal and operational frameworks essential for a successful launch.

Amid the challenges of the pandemic, Slam Media Lab (Slam), an award-winning design and content agency in San Francisco, emerged. In just two years of operation, we've grown to 30+ clients, catering to founders and brands focused on social impact, earning $2M in revenue.

At Slam, we excel in delivering Webflow design and development services that elevate brand identity and boost online presence, with expertise spanning content marketing, SEO, and brand strategy. Our journey speaks volumes about the relentless passion, hustle, and dedication required to establish a thriving marketing agency.

If you've been researching "how to start a public relations agency," you've likely found search results offering lists of tasks without practical tools for execution. This realization inspired us to create Slam’s How to Start an Agency Course. Our comprehensive course provides the documented processes and essential tools that were instrumental in the launch and operation of Slam. We aim to provide a practical, all-in-one resource to save you from the research abyss, reducing the barriers to entry and equipping you with vital knowledge to kickstart your own agency journey.

Check out the trailer:

Key Course Takeaways:

  • How to start a PR agency by defining your agency focus, unique value proposition, and services
  • How to differentiate your agency from other PR agencies
  • How to legally launch and operate your PR agency

We've been floored by the excitement around it! For a limited time, the first 10 people who sign up using code HOT25 will get 25% off.

What Does a PR Agency Do?

A PR agency is a professional service firm that specializes in managing and maintaining the public image of businesses, individuals, or organizations. The primary goal is to establish and maintain a positive relationship between the client and the public, enhance brand reputation, and navigate through any potential crises.

An external PR agency can provide businesses with help creating an improved image, expanding their brand recognition, and reducing employee workload. They can also serve as sounding boards for marketing strategies as well as provide feedback on new products or services. 

Why Companies Need a Good Public Relations Strategy

Every successful business needs to have a good reputation for customers to want to invest their time and money with them. Brand credibility and loyalty are key factors for consumers to become long-term buyers of a product or service. Having a good PR strategy helps to create and maintain this credibility.  

Regular, good publicity in the media can make brands stronger and improve businesses. When a PR agency lets the news know about a business's offerings, the business can get lots of positive media attention. PR (Public Relations) can boost a business’s reputation, create connections with important groups, and help a business grow.

Start Your Own PR Agency With These 10 Steps

Understanding the process of how to start a PR agency can feel like a steep mountain to climb, but if you break the process of starting your own PR firm down into 10 steps, this goal becomes a lot more attainable.

These are the 10 steps to follow when starting your own PR agency.

  1. Conduct market research
  2. Create a business plan
  3. Legal considerations
  4. Build a strong online presence
  5. Network and build relationships
  6. Develop service offerings
  7. Assemble a talented team
  8. Invest in technology
  9. Implement marketing strategies
  10. Provide exceptional service

Conduct Market Research on Other Public Relations Agencies

Before you do anything else, it is important to understand the current PR industry landscape and identify your competitors in the space. This process will help you understand what some public relations agencies are doing well, and where there are gaps that your PR agency can fill in. In turn, you'll also be able to get clear on what your unique value proposition will be to differentiate your agency from your competitors.

Another important part of this research is identifying your target market or ideal client profile. Get specific on the types of clients you want to work for - are they startups looking to establish their brand, established businesses looking for a brand revival, or individuals who need help with reputation management? Once you can answer these questions, you can create an agency that tailors its services to best meet the specific needs of your target market. This specificity is essential for attracting and retaining clients.

Create a Business Plan

Once you've decided on the types of clients you want to serve, you need to create your agency business plan. This process can be broken down into four simple steps:

  1. Outlining your agency goals and brand values
  2. Seeking out your target market/ideal clients
  3. Calculating your agency's financial projections
  4. Creating and executing a sound marketing strategy

A well-thought-out business plan is the foundation of a successful company, so make sure it's extremely thorough. Your business plan will serve as your roadmap to scale your agency, and is a helpful reminder of your "why" as a business owner to come back to when things get challenging.

Remember, there are many marketing agencies out there, so make sure to give special attention to your unique brand values and proposition during this process. Ask yourself, what makes your PR agency different from the other thousands of PR agencies out there, and how can you incorporate this into your marketing strategy?

Legal and Financial Considerations to Start Your PR Company

This is the part that nobody likes to do, but is necessary when launching your PR agency. Legal and financial considerations are areas of your business that you should never cut corners on. Here are some jumping-off points to ensure you are starting and operating a legal marketing agency:

  • Make sure that you register your agency as a legal business entity
  • Obtain the necessary business licenses, local permits, and insurance required to operate a business
  • Consult with legal professionals to ensure that your agency complies with business law and state regulations, including state and federal taxes
  • Open a business bank account for business expenses

Our How to Start An Agency Course has a model dedicated solely to the legal and operational setup of an agency, and includes actionable steps that we completed to successfully launch and scale our agency to 1 million in just one year. To help you get started, here are some of Slam's initial recommendations:

  • For registering your business - tools like Stripe Atlas can help you incorporate a startup online for your desired state of operation.
  • For business insurance - tools like Gusto are easy for acquiring business insurance and registering employees.
  • For tips on how to legally start your business - Slam's Legal Tracker is a great resource to keep up with all the legal nitty-gritty required for launch.
  • For opening a business account - tools like Mercury and Deel offer banking services tailored for startups that offer cash back options for initial deposits, as well as corporate credit cards with generous reward points.

Build Your PR Agency's Brand Identity Online

Your online presence is often the first impression clients have of your public relations agency, so make sure that your first impression is a good one with a beautiful, functional website.

Think of your website as an evergreen advertisement for your agency that should encourage some sort of conversion, such as a contact form fill, a request for a quote, or a phone call to inquire. At Slam, we've worked with tons of clients to create websites that not only communicate a client's brand voice, values, and offerings, but are also written for SEO, and generate inbound leads.

If that feels overwhelming - that's because it is - but as Webflow certified experts, we know a thing or two about how to accomplish your business goals through your website. Here are some key tips to keep in mind:

  • Register a domain that will help you rank well on search engines and includes your business name.
  • Create well-written, valuable content that is written for SEO by conducting keyword research for keywords you want your website to rank for.
  • Build a user-friendly website that establishes your brand identity using tools like Webflow or Squarespace. Then, make sure your site is ready for launch with our website launch checklist!

Network and Build Relationships to Find Future Clients

We all love LinkedIn Premium as a networking tool, but it's important to attend industry events in person as well. Building solid relationships is especially fundamental to the success of a PR agency, it is public relations, after all. If you can't find in-person events near you, look for online webinars and communities to sign up for to bounce ideas off other industry professionals and explore partnership opportunities.

For example, our How to Start an Agency Course also includes a log-in component for agency owners to network with other industry professionals who are in the process of starting their own agencies. This is great for brainstorming new ideas, staying up to date on industry trends, and forming partnerships with potential colleagues.

Develop Your Agency's Business Model and Service Offerings

Define the specific services your agency will offer, such as media relations, media training, crisis management, content creation, and event planning. Tailor your offerings to meet the unique needs of prospective clients. Your service offerings hinge on whether you will classify your agency as a traditional PR agency or a digital PR agency.

Traditional Public Relations Activities 

Public relations (PR) agencies can take on many different public relations activities, from content generation and media relations management to developing strategic partnerships and creating brand awareness. The public relations activities your agency will perform can vary, but they'll generally fall into two categories, traditional PR or digital/online PR. Traditional PR consists of the following activities:

  • Media Relations
  • Community Relations
  • Crisis Management
  • Internal Communications
  • Public Affairs
  • Investor Relations
  • Event Planning

Following are some objectives and activities for traditional public relations types:

Media Relations

  • Objective: Building and maintaining relationships with journalists and media outlets.
  • Activities:
  • Crafting and distributing press releases.
  • Organizing media events and press conferences.
  • Facilitating interviews with key stakeholders.
  • Responding to media inquiries and managing media coverage.

Community Relations

  • Objective: Creating positive associations for a business or organization within local communities.
  • Activities:
  • Engaging with community stakeholders.
  • Supporting local events and initiatives.
  • Establishing partnerships with local organizations.
  • Managing communication to address community concerns.

Crisis Management

  • Objective: Communicating effectively during times of distress caused by major events or threats to reputation.
  • Activities:
  • Developing crisis communication plans.
  • Coordinating response efforts during crises.
  • Providing timely and transparent information to stakeholders.
  • Minimizing reputational damage through strategic communication.

Internal Communications

  • Objective: Sharing key information within a company to enable effective employee communication and support company culture.
  • Activities:
  • Distributing internal newsletters and memos.
  • Managing company-wide announcements.
  • Facilitating employee feedback mechanisms.
  • Promoting a positive company culture through internal communication.

Public Affairs

  • Objective: Addressing issues affecting the public and managing relationships with governmental and non-governmental entities.
  • Activities:
  • Engaging in legislative advocacy.
  • Representing the organization in public policy discussions.
  • Building relationships with government agencies and officials.
  • Communicating the organization's stance on relevant issues.

Investor Relations

  • Objective: Building and maintaining relationships with investors and managing communication about a company's financial performance.
  • Activities:
  • Communicating financial results and forecasts.
  • Organizing investor conferences and phone calls.
  • Responding to inquiries from investors and analysts.
  • Ensuring compliance with financial regulations and reporting requirements.

Event Planning

  • Objective: Organizing and managing events to promote a brand, product, or cause.
  • Activities:
  • Conceptualizing event themes and objectives.
  • Selecting event venues and coordinating logistics.
  • Inviting and managing attendees.
  • Creating engaging content and experiences for event participants.

Digital Public Relations Activities

In contrast to traditional PR, digital/online PR includes the following activities: 

  • Social Media Public Relations
  • Influencer Public Relations
  • Reputation Management
  • Content Marketing
  • SEO for Public Relations

Following are some objectives and activities for digital public relations types:

Social Media PR

  • Objective: Leveraging social platforms for PR.
  • Activities:
  • Creating and managing social media accounts.
  • Crafting and sharing engaging content.
  • Responding to comments and engaging with followers.
  • Running social media campaigns to promote PR efforts.

Influencer PR

  • Objective: Collaborating with influencers for brand exposure.
  • Activities:
  • Identifying and reaching out to relevant influencers.
  • Negotiating partnerships and collaborations.
  • Coordinating influencer campaigns to enhance brand awareness.
  • Measuring and analyzing the impact of influencer collaborations.

Reputation Management

  • Objective: Managing and enhancing online reputation.
  • Activities:
  • Monitoring online mentions and reviews.
  • Responding to customer feedback and concerns.
  • Creating and promoting positive content to counteract negativity.
  • Developing and implementing strategies to repair and maintain reputation.

Content Marketing

  • Objective: Creating engaging content for PR.
  • Activities:
  • Developing blog posts, articles, and press releases.
  • Crafting compelling visual content, such as infographics.
  • Utilizing storytelling techniques for impactful narratives.
  • Sharing content across various online platforms.

SEO for PR

  • Objective: Optimizing content for search visibility.
  • Activities:
  • Conducting keyword research to inform PR content - check out our keyword research template for guidance.
  • Ensuring meta tags and descriptions are optimized.
  • Building high-quality backlinks to PR content.
  • Analyzing SEO metrics with SEO reporting software and adjusting strategies accordingly - download our free SEO ROI calculator to track the return your current SEO strategy is getting you.

Not sure what meta tags or backlinks are? We break it all down in our blog, SEO terms, explained. You can also subscribe to Slam's newsletter for SEO tips in your inbox.

Assemble a Talented Team

Recruit professionals with expertise in public relations, marketing, and communications. A skilled team enhances your agency's capabilities and reputation. You can utilize job recruitment boards like LinkedIn and Indeed for full-time hires as well as freelancers or contractors with tools like Upwork and Fiverr. We include role specifics and their key activities for your future agency hires below.

PR Agency Roles

A successful PR agency involves a team of professionals with diverse skills. Key roles/job titles include:

  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Media Relations Manager
  • Content Creator
  • Crisis Management Expert
  • Account Manager
  • Social Media Manager

Public Relations Specialist

  • Role: As a PR Specialist, your primary responsibility is to craft and implement PR strategies that enhance the reputation of your clients.
  • Key Activities:
  • Conducting thorough research to understand the client's industry, market, and competitors.
  • Developing comprehensive PR plans that align with the client's business goals.
  • Creating engaging narratives and messages to communicate the client's story effectively.
  • Executing media campaigns to generate positive coverage and enhance brand perception.
  • Monitoring and analyzing PR metrics to measure the success of campaigns.

Media Relations Manager

  • Role: As a Media Relations Manager, your focus is on building and maintaining media relationships with journalists and news outlets to secure positive media coverage for your clients.
  • Key Activities:
  • Identifying key journalists and media contacts relevant to the client's industry.
  • Establishing and nurturing relationships through effective communication and networking.
  • Pitching story ideas and press releases to journalists to secure media coverage.
  • Coordinating interviews, press conferences, and media events to generate publicity.
  • Monitoring media coverage and analyzing its impact on the client's reputation.

Content Creator

  • Role: As a Content Creator, your role is to develop engaging and compelling content that aligns with the client's PR strategy.
  • Key Activities:
  • Writing press releases, articles, blog posts, trade publications, and other written content.
  • Creating visual content such as infographics, images, and videos to support PR campaigns.
  • Crafting social media posts that resonate with the target audience.
  • Adhering to brand guidelines while maintaining a creative and engaging approach.
  • Collaborating with other team members to ensure content aligns with overall PR goals.

Crisis Management Expert

  • Role: As a Crisis Management Expert, you are responsible for handling potential crises and minimizing damage to the client's reputation.
  • Key Activities:
  • Developing crisis communication plans and protocols.
  • Conducting risk assessments to identify potential crisis scenarios.
  • Acting swiftly and decisively during crises to manage communication effectively.
  • Coordinating with relevant stakeholders to address and resolve crises.
  • Conducting post-crisis evaluations to learn and improve crisis management strategies.

Account Manager

  • Role: As an Account Manager, your role is to serve as the main point of contact between the PR agency and its clients, ensuring their needs are met.
  • Key Activities:
  • Building and maintaining strong client relationships.
  • Understanding the client's business objectives and aligning PR strategies accordingly.
  • Communicating effectively with clients, and providing regular updates and reports.
  • Coordinating the execution of PR campaigns and ensuring deadlines are met.
  • Identifying opportunities for upselling or expanding services to meet client goals.

Social Media Manager

  • Role: As a Social Media Manager, your focus is on managing and growing the client's presence on various social media platforms.
  • Key Activities:
  • Developing and executing social media strategies aligned with PR goals.
  • Creating and curating content for social media posts.
  • Engaging with the audience and responding to comments and messages.
  • Analyzing social media metrics to measure performance and make data-driven decisions.
  • Staying updated on social media trends and incorporating them into campaigns.

Invest in Tried-and-True Technology and Tools

Utilize the latest PR, communication, and reporting tools and software to streamline operations, manage client relationships, and measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Investing in technology will enable efficiency across your agency.

Media Monitoring Tools

Keep track of your client's mentions in the press with media monitoring tools like Mention to measure the impact of your PR efforts. Mention is a monitoring and listening tool that uses a bot to crawl various web pages like blogs, review pages, and news mentions, to pinpoint mentions of a focus keyword concerning a business. It helps get a sense of brand sentiment.

Communication and Collaboration Platforms

Foster effective communication within your team and with clients using tools like Slack, OpenPhone, and Notion for project management. Effective communication plays a pivotal role in building strong relationships with external clients and internal employees to create unison in achieving common goals.

These communication tools ensure you are always keeping your clients in the loop on project deadlines and outcomes and letting them know that you are easy to reach if they need help with unexpected issues like crisis management. Your availability level can build or break trust with clients.

Social Media Management

Manage social media accounts efficiently with platforms like SproutSocial and Iconosquare, ensuring consistent messaging and engagement. Social media management tools play a pivotal role in streamlining tasks, analyzing performance, and maintaining a consistent and engaging online presence.

These tools are especially important for reputation management activities, helping clients build a personal brand, and monitoring comments and brand sentiment to keep your client's brand identity positive.

Analytics and Reporting

Measure the success of your PR campaigns with analytics tools such as Google Analytics and PR-specific platforms like Trend Hunter. These advanced analytics tools allow you to track key metrics, assess campaign performance, and gather valuable insights into the impact of your PR efforts.

Quality quantitative data serves as a valuable resource to show clients the impact of your agency's efforts. They also allow you to get a peak into market trends and how users are interacting with a brand, helping you to better consult your clients on how to shift strategy so you are always delivering exceptional service.

Implement Marketing Strategies

Having a sound marketing strategy in place is one of the most important steps in the process of starting your own public relations agency. Look to promote your agency through both digital channels and more traditional marketing materials such as trade publications and press releases. The goal of your marketing strategy should be to emphasize your unique value proposition, set you apart from other PR firms, and showcase your agency's success stories to get clients for your agency.

Crafting Your PR Agencies Social Media Strategy

As we discussed, we want new clients to land on your website to increase the chance of generating a lead, but your website isn't the sole step here. Your social media and content marketing are key contributors to this goal as well and should help push potential clients toward your website.

To do so, make sure you are constantly posting about your PR agency on social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn. Each platform should contain different content for different user types. Having a well-developed social media editorial calendar can help save you time planning your social media content strategy. For example, your TikTok page should have short, entertaining videos to capture your client's attention. If you aren't sure what to post on your TikTok account, our TikTok content planner is a great resource to generate ideas and build out your posting schedule.

Instagram is a great place to post eye-catching images, videos, and infographics. No worries if you are not a graphic designer. Canva is a great tool for beginners and experts alike with fool-proof templates and unique design options. You can also create a brand media kit with an easy-to-access project folder containing your brand fonts and colors. Add in tools like Iconosquare or SproutSocial to help stick to a consistent posting schedule and automate your Instagram posts.

Finally, thought leadership goes a long way on LinkedIn as a way to contribute to the larger PR conversation. Providing your unique insight into the public relations industry, marketing trends, case studies, and valuable lessons learned as an agency owner helps to enhance your credibility. Ideally, your content will be getting in front of the right type of audience as well, as the algorithm feeds people more of the content that tends to resonate with them. Be sure to include links to your agency's newest blog posts on your LinkedIn feed, and encourage readers to engage by commenting or sharing.

For even more ways to use LinkedIn to authentically market your agency and network with future clients, download the Agency Starter Course!

Provide Exceptional Service

As the owner of your own PR agency, not only should you be highly skilled in public relations activities, but you should also be a persuasive people person. This combination of hard and soft skills is required to provide reliable services to external clients, and for overseeing employees and leading your internal teams well. If you're unsure how to put this into practice, the How to Start an Agency Course gives you an overview of the agency owner mindset, shares how hard it is to lead and manage an agency, and how you’ll have to position yourself to succeed!

What are the Costs Involved in Opening Your Own PR Agency?

Understanding the financial aspects of starting a PR agency is crucial. Costs may include office space, employee salaries, technology infrastructure, marketing efforts, legal fees, and ongoing operational expenses. Creating a detailed business plan will help you estimate these costs and plan your budget accordingly. You'll also need to choose your agency's payment structure - i.e. charging clients via subscription pricing, billable hours, or retainers. There are plenty of options you can choose, but how you handle billing clients will influence how much you can (or want) to pay in overhead.

How to Kickstart and Amplify Your Public Relations Agency 

Establishing and growing a successful Public Relations agency requires a lot of hours, and while the profitability of a PR agency can vary, successful agencies can generate substantial profits. At Slam, we know what it takes to start, maintain, and grow a successful marketing agency and the nitty-gritty of owning your own company.

As a future agency owner, it is important to utilize a combination of the latest tools and technologies, implement teachings and educational resources like the How to Start an Agency Course, and most importantly, show up as your authentic self. Keep evolving, stay informed, and consistently adapt to the dynamic landscape of public relations, and you can achieve long-term excellence in the field.

Interested in starting other types of agencies? Check out our guides:

Coming Soon!

Services from Slam

No items found.
New from Slam

How to Start an Agency [Course & 20+ Templates]

Leverage our proven blueprint to start your own million-dollar agency. We did it in one year. You can, too. Our course packs in 20+ templates and exclusive insider processes, addressing every challenge from startup to success.

Want killer branding for you agency?

We can help you slam dunk your brand identity, so you can focus on your clients.

What are you interested in learning more about?
Thanks for getting in touch! 🙏

Our team will be in touch ASAP to schedule a call. If you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to contact our team at
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.