Choosing a PR agency is like choosing a pair of shoes – they need to be a good fit. While some PR agencies will have team members that are professionals in social media management, others may have invested in quality writers, SEO specialists or account managers with specific knowledge in your industry niche. While some agencies cover all these bases. Depending on what you’re aiming to achieve through your PR efforts, it’s wise to seek an agency with a skillset that is a good match for your needs.
Here are some ideas that we think are worth considering when it comes to finding the perfect PR partner for your business.
The Client Brief
PR is most effective when it is closely aligned to your business plan. A good agency will want to understand the bigger picture, and you should be prepared to share it during the client brief in which the agency gets into the nitty gritty of who you are as a business and what you’re trying to achieve. If they don’t ask questions about your business and your long-term plans, they won’t be finding out the depth they need to in order to reap the best results for you.
If you go with an agency, you will be buying the time and experience of high-quality professionals. You will pay significantly for their services. However, if a prospective agency appears much more interested in your PR budget than in your business, that’s a red flag. Your alarm bells should be ringing because that means their priorities aren’t right.
Big agencies typically pitch you with their most presentable people – those with senior positions and with the most experience. Then as soon as the account is won, junior personnel are left to handle the day-to-day work. This is how many agencies make their money but it’s bad practice that you shouldn’t stand for. Interrogate closely who the day-to-day campaign will be delivered by and insist on meeting them. It’s an essential part of choosing a PR agency.
You need your PR agency to be capable of deploying any of the communications tools at their disposal. You want all the skills that you need under one roof (and in the hands of the people who will be looking after your account). If your day-to-day team can’t be productive with social or digital media and they don’t understand PR’s impact on SEO, they are not a good match for you.
Don’t assume a big agency will be a safer bet. Big agencies are simply a series of smaller teams, all collected under one roof. Your account will only ever have one team assigned to it, so there is no inherent advantage to choosing a large agency. In contrast, a smaller agency may value your contribution far more and grant you more attention. This is reflected by the fact that even major brands are choosing boutique firms, as big isn’t always better when it comes to a PR partner.
Many think they need someone who specialises purely in their sector. Don’t be limited in this way. Yes, market knowledge is helpful, but agencies with multi-sector knowledge often means they have a wider scope of media contacts which could be in sectors you want to break into to grow your customer base. Good PR people are smart and adaptable, willing to learn about your market.
When speaking to prospective agencies, ask what they will be measuring in your campaign. Avoid prompting them with what you would like them to say; instead, see what they suggest without your input. If the agency obsesses over measuring the inches of stat columns, think twice about hiring them. You deserve an agency that is keen to measure the impact of PR but in the right way. This should include areas like backlinks, brand mentions and engagement, web traffic and downloads, as these are more accurate ways to show you are making an impact and achieving your goals.
At HeadOn PR, our team members collaborate and work to their strengths, ensuring that we offer every client the best possible service in public relations. To find out how our expert team could help your business stand out against the noise, contact the HeadOn team here.