Fees: Find a PR agency with fees that suit you. When possible, get a fixed fee. If not, get a fee that won't surprisingly rise beyond what was set out in the initial agreement. Hourly rates might seem off-putting at first, but don't worry about this unnecessarily, it's the value of what you get that matters. Experienced PR Practitioners with higher rates often have more contacts and familiarity with your specific industry.
Online Presence: Does the PR agency have a website? If the answer is no, or they do but it's very poor, you should reconsider your choice. A good website should list case studies for previous clients they've worked for, set out their products and services and showcase their experience. Do they practice what they preach when it comes to the services they sell, such as social media or strategic and digital communications?
Quick Responses: To get an idea of how quickly they respond to enquiries, send them an initial query as a test. If the response is slow when you're trying to give them your business, what will they be like when they have it?
Speak to existing clients: The best way to gage how well a firm works with clients is to read testimonials and case studies, don't be afraid to directly reach out to their clients to verify any comments.
What Services are offered? Be clear on what services they offer. Can your business grow with that PR firm? Ask yourself what services you may need in the future, do they offer them? Ask them to explain this clearly in your initial enquiry. A proactive PR Agency will offer a fully-integrated service.
Prepare for Meetings: Prepare any questions you want answers to prior to any meetings. It's always best to let them know beforehand, so they can prepare the best answers.
Is the PR agency efficient in Corporate Communications? It's important they understand your business so they can do the best possible work for you. Talk to them about your company and any ideas, queries or concerns you have.
Innovative Ideas: Ask your PR agency how they can help your reputation using new and innovative tools, for example, social media platforms. Do they have any ideas for a campaign that would have a positive impact on your business?
Timing: Timing is of the essence in this industry. Make sure you can contact the agency whenever you need advice or help easily and quickly. The agency should have a single point of contact, and if for whatever reason, this person is unavailable there should be a clear hierarchy to ensure you get a speedy response.
Ultimately you should feel comfortable enough around PR practitioners to speak openly and honestly.
Here are some red-flag points
- Slow response times
- No flexibility
- No online presence
- PR agency shows no interest in your opinions or ideas
We'd love to hear any comments you have in the box below. What do you think makes a good PR Agency? What would you look for when searching for a PR Agency or would you struggle to tell the difference between marketing and PR altogether?
Images used courtesy of OpenClips on Pixabay and Håkan Dahlström on Flickr.