A quick Google search will prove that PR agencies are ten a penny, so finding the right agency for you can sometimes feel like spinning a roulette wheel. Agencies that really understand your brand, goals and vision, and will actually deliver quality, tangible results are hard to find.
Every business has its own unique set of needs and similarly, every PR team will work differently and have its own specialisms. Whilst most agencies will have the necessary skills to cover the most basic PR tasks, some will have particular success and experience in certain fields and functions over others, for example, media relations or corporate communications.
So, this should be a primary consideration when it comes to choosing a PR agency. Do they have demonstrated experience in helping other brands reach the same kind of goals you’d like to achieve?
To save yourself precious time, effort and money, we’ve compiled a checklist including five more things to look for in a PR agency, including some questions to ask.
1. What will the first couple of months look like if we engage with you?
You might not have the luxury of paying for months of PR services before a plan or programme is actually rolled out, so you might want to check that the agency has the tools and know-how to really hit the ground running and start working towards those all-important results from day one.
2. Budget and billing
Depending on the agency’s size and general day-to-day overheads, fees are going to differ – sometimes quite dramatically. Billing will also differ and may be hourly, flat rates per project, or a monthly retainer fee. You might think that you’ll get a better service at big, well-known agencies that operate in teams to offer more viewpoints, flexibility and manpower, and so are willing to pay the price for their expertise, but it can be easy for clients to fall between the cracks when teams are servicing umpteen accounts at one time. Smaller agencies are not only going to be more cost-effective, but the reduced size of the team means you’re much more likely to get a more direct, personal service.
3. What industries do you have experience in?
It’s worth asking if the agency specialises in your sector but if not, don’t write them off. Quite often agencies will tend to specialise in an area of PR rather than specific industries and fields. Follow up to see examples that demonstrate relevant track records, tools, and skills necessary to achieve success across a variety of media including nationals, regionals, and trade. Also, be mindful of agencies that have a core focus on an industry different to your own. While non-specialised agencies are often adept at moving between industries, a specialised agency outside of your industry might not have the right tools, contacts or knowledge base necessary to navigate PR in your business’ field.
Who will be working on your account? PR is all about relationships, so you might want to make sure that you can really gel with the people you could be working with. You’re placing the reputation of your brand and business in their hands, after all! It’ll also help you see if their working style is compatible with your own way of getting things done.
5. Your responsibilities
Successful PR agencies require input from clients, so it’s important to understand what you are your team will be responsible for contributing to. If you’re really busy and require a more hands-off service, you’ll want to ensure the PR team are doers that can act off their own backs and not wait to be spoon-fed information and ideas.
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