Working with a PR agency is the most efficient way to reach mass audiences and it can be a very rewarding experience if done right.
A PR agency can generate awareness for your company’s products by promoting the image you want for your brand. It will also give you an edge over the competition, who may not be using PR effectively or even at all. Agencies also use their talent and expertise to explore new channels of communication by opening doors and inviting new opportunities for their clients.
Now that we have established the benefits of hiring a PR agency, the remaining question is – What are the criteria for choosing the right PR agency to fulfill your company’s needs?
1. Research: You should always do the research before choosing a PR agency. Start gathering background information by asking people in your industry about the agencies they know or which ones they’ve done business with.
2. Experience & Skills: Is the agency new? How long has it been in business? Does it have strong media relations? Eliciting the services of a PR agency means hiring a team of professionals to get your message out there. You need to make sure they are up for the job.
3. Size: A boutique agency means more energy is focused on you. Special attention is an advantage as your company is a top priority, and not lost in a sea of accounts. Regional agencies will also understand the local climate and be able to adjust your messages accordingly. International agencies, on the other hand, have the advantage of working within a global network. This can be very beneficial if your business requires a global reach.
4. Reputation: Does the agency have a good reputation? Never underestimate the power of word of mouth. If people have good things to say about the agency, they must be doing something right.
5. Social media: Does the PR agency have the channels to promote your company or your brand? Check the agency’s website and blog to see if they are up-to-date with social media channels, i.e. Facebook and Twitter. Today, it’s all about being on top of the news and the many ways to access it.
6. Clients: What type of Clients does the agency have? If the agency boasts big names and respected clients in its portfolio, you know you are in the right hands.
7. Request a proposal: The agency should be able to provide a proposal, action or PR plan for your company. Here you can see what they hope to accomplish for your company. You can also ask for credentials – sample press releases and case studies – so you can see the style of writing and mode of thinking.
8. Team: Usually senior consultants do the pitches and presentations while mid level managers will be handling your account. So it is really important to meet the whole team that will be working directly on your account.
9. Budget: How much are you willing to pay vs. how much they are asking for? Sometimes the PR agency can deduct some unnecessary fees to cater to your budget.
The PR agency is not there just to deliver your story to the press. They can also design, write, and position your stories; handle crises and manage your reputation; create newsletters and ultimately shape the image you want to portray to your target audience.
At the end of the day it’s all about the benefits; you will get your money’s worth if you hire a PR agency that is right for you.