You’ve finally made the decision to take you PR to the next level and get some support. But you don’t know where to begin and it can be difficult handing over an aspect of your business to somebody else. There is so much to consider. PR agencies come in all shapes and sizes from individual consultants to huge agencies and as you’ll be collaborating closely with these people it is important to find a company that matches your expectations, fits with your culture, and enables you to accomplish your PR objectives. It can be a challenging task so with this in mind I have put together a round up of five things you should be looking for.
Everybody is going to say they are great at what they do but it is important to check out their track record. You want to get a feel for their level of experience and ability to produce results, ask which companies it's worked with and if it is media relations support you are after ask to see samples of coverage they have secured. If it is speaking and award opportunities, you’re after, request a list of conferences and awards the firm has successfully secured for clients. If social media assistance is more what you are after, ask for the handles of several accounts they manage and case studies that point to results. You want them to be able to demonstrate that they can provide results for the type of work you need. Also don’t be afraid to ask for references and testimonials.
Make sure they know your industry. If you’re a beauty brand it’s no good using somebody who can show you lots of results from the insurance industry. On the one hand a lot of PR is based on finding the most newsworthy story and getting it out to the right people so somebody outside the field you work in may be able to do it, but specialisation means that the people you use will understand what you’re offering and what you want to achieve quicker. They are also more likely to have built relationships with journalists in the area you want to be featured.
Are they transparent? The PR industry is notorious for sending in the bigwigs to pitch and then getting junior members of the team to conduct the work. Whilst the more junior members of the team are likely to be able to do the job, you want to know who you’ll be working with before you start paying out fees. You need to know what you are getting for your money whilst most PRs won’t promise coverage in certain publications at exact times (the news agenda is beyond our control) you should still be speaking to about what you will receive in terms of input.
Results will not happen overnight, but you do want to work with a PR that is results focused whether that be achieving coverage, increasing social engagement, or securing you fabulous speaking opportunities.
Make sure they are client driven. The PR company works for you, not the other way round. Pay attention to how they treat you during the initial proposal process, do they answer your questions, take onboard your feedback or are they more “my way or the highway”? If they are go elsewhere.
Rebecca Slater is a PR Consultant with more than 20 years public relations experience. She is based in Staffordshire but provides support to businesses all over the country.