Appointing the right PR agency for your company can be a tricky ask. There are many agencies with different specialties to consider from such as consumer or business specialists.
Whatever your sector, or objectives, working with the right team for you can deliver invaluable results, but get it wrong and you’ve wasted time, money and potentially even damaged your brand’s reputation.
There are many things you need to take into account when looking for the right team to work with…
Here are 7 things to consider when hiring a PR agency:
- Set out your goals
- Know your budget
- Requesting a proposal
- All the right connections
- Do your research
- Handling crises
- A PR agency should be an extension of your team
1. Set out your goals
It sounds obvious, but if you don’t know where your business is going, you won’t be in a position to start shouting from the rooftops about it. As with any PR strategy, you’ll need to define your goals before making any decisions about hiring a PR agency.
Determine what it is that you are trying to achieve – is it brand awareness, media engagement, crisis management? Examples of PR objectives you might have include driving sales of a product, driving buzz around your brand, raising awareness of your brand or generate brand mentions to support SEO.
A good PR agency will assess your business objectives and help you shape a communications plan that will support them.
2. Know your budget
Hiring a PR Agency can be costly, therefore it is important that you determine how much you can afford to spend especially if you would want to have a PR agency working with your team on a retainer. Depending on your short and long term goals, you could choose to hire an agency on a monthly, bi-annually or even yearly retainer, or a one-off project.
In the grand scheme of things, the size of your budget is less important than your objectives and how you will meet them. A good PR agency will ways find a way to achieve results within your budget.
3. Requesting a proposal
In your process of finding a PR agency to hire, you can always hire a company that you already know, have heard good things about or been referred to by a friend/someone you’ve worked with before. However, most of the time it’s best to shortlist a few and ask them to pitch – this is often called a formal request for proposal (RFP) process.
When putting together a request for a proposal, ensure that you give a brief overview of your brand, state clearly the goals you want to achieve, the expertise you require from the agency to get the job done, what you want the agency to do, and your KPIs.
You may then ask them to present to your team in a formal pitch meeting or have them send you the proposal document.
4. All the right connections
Of course, you will want an agency with a team of experienced PR people who have a clear understanding of your sector and know the key media inside out.
Ensure the PR agency you opt to work with is well connected to journalists, influencers, industry leaders, marketers and even other PR agencies. It’s worth asking if their external connections are available to you as well. For example, can they recommend a good SEO agency if they don’t offer that service?
5. Do your research
Before you hire a PR agency, it makes sense to do your homework on them. What kind of results have they delivered for current and past clients? Take a look at some of their recent campaign work – do they show case studies on their website and testimonials? Ask around.
It’s important to get an idea of what the agency is capable of to know the kind of work you can expect them to produce.
It’s also worth checking out their own blog if they one. The best PR agency blogs are updated regularly, and provide relevant content as opposed to just news announcements about themselves.
6. Handling crisis
Have you thought about crisis? If something unexpected does happen, you must be confident that the PR agency you work with can manage and contain the situation, should it ever arise.
Your agency partner must be a group of people that you trust and are completely comfortable with.
Ideally, a PR agency would work with you to plan and train for a crisis, but if your brand is at risk today that doesn’t really help you.
In an emergency scenario, our experienced crisis management specialists act quickly to protect your reputation, taking the heat out of the situation and limiting the potential damage. We then work to develop a strategy for ongoing crisis management as the issue unfolds.
7. A PR agency should be an extension of your team
You can’t underestimate the importance of a good relationship. A PR agency should be seen as extension of your team, so a face-to-face meeting with your potential agency is really valuable before you make your decision.
You and your team will be speaking to them regularly and working closely to achieve joint objectives, therefore a good rapport and strong working relationship is key. Ultimately, think about whether you would you hire them to work in your office. If not, carefully consider why before making the hiring decision.
If you decide to take the plunge and hire a PR agency, it can have a meaningful and positive impact, in the same way that a poorly handled issue can quickly become a crisis. Choosing the right agency is so important. Getting it wrong will not only waste time but cost you money.
As a specialist PR agency, we understand that every client is different and take the time to get to know each business we work with, starting with core messaging and developing results-driven campaigns with creativity, energy and flair.
Get in touch with our team if you’re looking for PR support.