Questions to Ask When Looking for the Right PR Agency
Searching for the right PR agency can be a daunting prospect. From getting your head around exactly what PR is, how it could benefit your business, and what you’ll need to invest, you then need to find the right ‘fit’. This should be a PR pro, or agency that will deliver services that are perfect for your needs and meet your demands.
Those who are looking for a new PR agency, having had experience working with PR, may have a clearer idea on what they need. Perhaps a larger agency to cope with a growing business, or maybe a more specialist/niche service provider. However, it’s always important to be clear on your needs, especially if the nature, size or outlook of your business has changed.
Just like when you are shopping around for anything, from services, to shoes, it’s great to have some research behind you. Knowing more about the options available, and what will suit you, will save you all important time and help you navigate the big, wide world of PR. Run through the questions below and brainstorm with any member of your team who can add insight and value (sales, marketing, finance). Prepare yourself to meet or interview selected PR teams by outlining your needs and expectations as examined through the questions below.
Why am I looking for PR? What are my expectations?
This will help you to streamline from the outset whether PR, or a certain agency, will be beneficial for your business.
It’s not unheard of for businesses to go out looking for PR and waste everyone’s time by meeting and reviewing proposals without giving a clear indication of why they are contacting them and then rejecting the idea of PR.
That isn’t to say it isn’t worth exploring the possibility of PR even if you aren’t set on the idea, but at least if you know why you have taken that route what you might want from them. It will help them assist you by sharing their advice and explaining clearly what they can offer.
What does my business need?
You may want to research and meet with a few different types of agency to get a feeling of what they can deliver. Write down some definitive requirements so you can shortlist the right PR teams or agencies that offer services that fit your needs.
Are you bold and ready to take risks, or do you want to take a conservative approach? Do you want a PR partner you can keep at arm’s length and simply send over content, or one who will work hard to get a deep understanding of your business and your unique needs?
Is your business likely to have to deal with bad news or negative press? You’ll want to ensure your chosen agency either has a specialism in crisis or issues management, or find one that can advise and prepare you properly for such an incident.
Do you want help running social media? Do you have internal marketing or will marketing support be helpful?
Is there anyone on your team who will supply content or write a press release, or will you need help with copywriting?
Who do I want to reach?
Who do you want to target? Are there any particular sectors? Would you like to get your brand or yourself into national papers and international business press, and/or your trade media?
Talk to your sales or marketing teams about where PR can help them get in front of new customers or engage existing audiences to build your reputation and brand image.
Can I afford PR? What is my budget?
Self explanatory really, but there are a few considerations. There are lots of agencies, all delivering different services at a range of price points, but just with anything you buy…cheapest isn’t always best!
If you sign a contract, this will be an ongoing monthly outgoing so check that you can afford PR and it fits into your yearly expenditure, or allocated marketing budget.
What’s our business messaging?
PR agencies help clarify and refine your messaging to create strong pitches for your chosen audience(s). However, entering into discussions by defining your differentiators, upcoming news and what stories you may want to share with the media will help them create better, more targeted proposals and strategies which will deliver stronger returns.
What kind of people do I work best with?
What is the ethos of your business and what kind of individuals would work well with your team?
Some people may view PR as ‘fluff’ or ‘charm’, but the best and the most effective PR relationships are built on clear, direct and open communication with clients and with journalists.
To be continued…watch out for Part II.