Should My Band Hire a Publicist?
If you are wondering when I am going to answer your question about how to hire a publicist, I'm not, because you shouldn't. I say that as someone who did PR for bands like yours for a decade. Focus on getting local press through making personal contact with those folks, or maybe rope in an ambitious young person in your scene who is interested in getting into "the music industry" and see if they want to help you out with promoting your release. It is a fantasy that the right publicist can just "make it happen."
Your time is going to be best spent promoting your release in town and regionally. Being written up in the Eau Claire Daily Pinecone is certainly not as exciting as being Best New Music'd out of obscurity by Pitchfork--but build locally and work up. Sure, email a little pitch and Soundcloud link to every music blog and website that matters to you and cross your fingers, but do not spend money on a publicist until you have something good going locally. By that I mean consistently drawing 150-200 people every time you play, supporting national bands at bigger venues in your city, have buzz and tangible audience in nearby cities.
Once you have all that and have an album to promote and are planning on touring to support it, then we can talk about hiring a publicist.