The Guide You Need: 8 Steps To Picking Your PR Agency

When Public Relations is done correctly, it can deliver results in a way that no other marketing technique can match.

PR reaches hearts and minds; it creates credibility for a person or an entire corporation; and it can get people talking and sharing your brand like ardent fans. The type of analysis and sharing that PR generates can be seen as way more trustworthy than conventional advertising – because it comes from other sources, not the business itself “pushing its agenda”.

That’s why selecting the proper PR agency is a necessity. Latch onto the wrong one and you may not just waste your precious time and money, you may also miss out on the time-sensitive chance to put some serious distance between your own business and your hungry competitors.

Well that’s great, but what is Public Relations?

Excellent question, dear reader. Put simply, “Public Relations” (or, “PR”) is the skilled maintenance of a positive public image by an organization, for a different organization or individual. 

That is to say, your selected PR firm is deliberately managing the creation and proliferation of knowledge between you, the PR-service-seeker, and also the public. How is this different from “any publicity is good publicity”? PR is controlled internally, whereas publicity isn’t always controlled, and comes from external sources. 

So how do you avoid choosing the wrong public relations agency? We’ve put together 8 things to be on the lookout for when making your decisions:

1. What questions are being asked

PR works at its best once it is inline with your company and its very ethos. An honest agency will have the time and enthusiasm to fully grasp the larger image of your brand. It’s your job as the potential client to be willing and able to share this information. Get those NDAs involved if necessary! If they’re contract-first, important questions later, DON’T use them.

2. What has their attention

If you’ve spent some time researching high quality public relations companies, you’ll understand by now that quality most likely comes at a higher price. Good agencies know their worth, but if a prospective agency seems more fascinated by your PR budget than your business and your goals, alarm bells ought to be ringing! A good PR agency will be client-results driven, not quota or commission driven.

3. Let’s see the team

Big agencies will usually pitch with their smartest, most senior personnel. Then soon after the account is won, junior personnel will be left to handle the day-to-day. From the get-go, you should be aware of the team that’s going to be looking after your needs (are they in-house, versatile, informed?), and not be blindsided. Who are the personnel that will be meeting and exceeding your goals? How transparent and frequent is the reporting? Ensure you do your due diligence when selecting the right agency for the job at hand.

4. Ready to deploy

You need your PR agency to be capable of exercising any and all of the marketing tools they have at their disposal. What you’re looking for is having all these various talents beneath one roof – and better yet, within the hands of the folks that are going to be taking care of your account. If your team can’t do social media or advertising, and doesn’t understand PR’s impact on SEO, they’re not right for you.

5. Size Matters?

You cannot always assume an enormous agency is going to be a safer bet. Huge agencies are simply a series of smaller groups, all collected under one “roof”. Unless your budget is extremely large, you may be a lower priority for the disparate team appointed to you. Think of the team structure we mentioned earlier – who will be assigned to your account?

For a smaller agency, you may be a larger client, and you will most likely receive far better attention and quality care. And the truth is, others are catching on. As PR Week recently reported, even major brands are trusting concierge, boutique agencies who will always be available. Size doesn’t always matter when looking for a PR agency (a good reputation certainly does though!). Particularly in this day and age, mobility and agility are crucial to staying ahead. 

6. Offices

Don’t be seduced by the flowery office. While appearances matter (I mean, a neat and professional looking office is always a plus to meet in), what matters more is the results they’re garnering for your business.  If instead of seeing a measured return on investment you’re seeing a new conference table every month, you’ll begin to wonder if your money is being invested into the right people.

7. Location

Going local is pretty great, I must say. If the company you’re working with is just down the road, you save a lot of time commuting. In addition, arranging these meetings won’t be something that needs to be planned weeks and week in advance, and finally, you will get a real feeling for how this company operates (not just what they tell you over the phone). That said, being 5 minutes down the road isn’t the be-all and end-all. If a company is willing to take the time and effort to travel to where you are, and meet you at your convenience, this is usually a good sign. Being in Darien, Connecticut, we’re but a short drive away from all companies in the Northeast. 

8. The Reporting

The most crucial step! When talking to prospective PR companies (and indeed, any service provider) you need to see how how the success of the campaign is going to be measured. Don’t feed them the answers so they can simply say “yes, of course we’ll be doing that”. Instead, see what information they are volunteering during your meetings. Are they results oriented? How will they prove this? What is the frequency and transparency of the reporting? Your public relations company should live PR. 

Do you want to learn more about the world of PR? Email or Call your favorite public relations company in Connecticut today!

Timothy McDermott, Noble House Media

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