Questions to Ask PR Agencies During the Tender Process
Once you have decided your business is interested in integrating PR, and you have reviewed your needs and expectations with the questions we outlined in the first part of this series, it’s time to prepare yourself to meet and interview PROs.
You’ll set up some initial meetings for introductions, to run through background on your company, outline your needs and goals, and then collate some information about a selection of PR companies. Once you’ve provided this background, and have an understanding of each PR team, you can make a shortlist of those you think would be a good fit and schedule detailed pitch meetings.
In this blog we are going to explore the key questions you should ask your shortlist of PROs during the interview tender process. Be sure to have received a clear answer to each of these before making your decision, as it will help you evaluate and select objectively.
What are your values and style of working?
Nice one to start off with. Do they seem like they will be good to work with and does their ethos align with that of your own company?
Who will be our main point of contact? Who will be working on our account?
Many larger agencies will send senior, experienced members to pitch in for an account and then drop off once a contract is signed. You’ll need to know who will be working day to day on your account and also who you’ll be in regular communication with. If your main point/points of contact aren’t even in the meeting (without a good reason why they are absent) then that’s a big red flag from the start.
What campaigns or strategies would you recommend or suggest?
This is where you’ll really see if the PR team pitching has listened to and/or read the information you provided regarding your company, goals and needs. It’s really important you were well prepared and provided as much clear detail as possible during the initial meeting to get the best responses from PR companies in regards to this question.
Consider the following:
- Do they specifically respond to the details you provided them?
- Are their strategies clear and can they articulate their reasoning behind them?
- Do they outline where they would need more information or what you may have missed in your initial briefing?
What challenges do you see for our company PR?
It’s great to hear all the positive things about your company, what a fantastic job the PR team will do and how much potential your company has to be featured glowingly in all your target publications. However, things aren’t always that rosy, and you also want to be able to have a measured understanding and expectations. The pitching company should be able to outline some of the issues that may be faced, and their tactics for dealing with, or overcoming, those obstacles for you.
How will you demonstrate or measure your work?
Depending on budget and also the kind of PR campaigns you are running there are various methods for measuring the value and success of the work done. This is a tricky question as PR is not as financially clear to measure as say, sales. You want to make sure the PR team takes this question seriously and responds appropriately, elaborating on the methods they would use to demonstrate and assess their work on your account.
External press monitoring or other PR measurement tools may be beneficial if you have a large budget, or want to understand sentiment. Press monitoring is not always necessary, but for certain you want to know your PR team will be working with your business to evaluate the success and outcome of each campaign or output against clearly defined targets and goals. If you’d like to learn more about measurement, the Barcelona Principles 3.0, are an up-to-date communications industry agreement on measurement and evaluation.
Why would you like to work with us? Why do you think you would be a good fit?
This isn’t as simple as ‘we’re specialists in your sector’, although working with a business that has established relations and an understanding of your industry is an important consideration. Reflect on their answer in response to the materials you provided them and notice whether they show enthusiasm for your company and its work. Specifics are telling in this area. ‘Exciting business’ is nice to hear, but what do they think of your products or services, your potential for growth, your leadership and values, and where do they fit in?
Can you provide testimonials or references?
This is really a given and should be provided automatically. However, if you haven’t received any testimonials then be sure to ask, or if you’d like more then feel free to ask if they have any companies who would mind being a reference and sharing their experience.