Key questions to ask before appointing a PR agency
by Olivia Sandu
Friday 7 July. It’s that time again… On a regular basis, we post an inspirational #QuoteOfTheWeek on our Twitter page, and recently it was Sir Richard Branson’s turn to enlighten us with his views on the importance of public relations: “Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.”
With the Holmes Report showing an industry growth of over seven per cent in 2016, many company owners may look to appoint a PR agency to raise the profile of their brand, offer support with their marketing activity and keep ahead of their competitors. To find out which PR consultancy would be a good fit for you, we have collated some questions which
are worth asking in advance, as the answers you will receive might be more valuable than the PR proposal you’ll peruse.
1. Why should we work with you?
The shortlisted agencies should have a clear answer to this question. Opt for a partnership which is based on mutual interest but also on enthusiasm, as this could be the source of great projects as these are some of the common ingredients for successful projects. Rather than choosing the agency based on its past credentials, consider what the future potential could be. As our motto says, ‘everything is possible’.
2. What results can you deliver?
“Is PR worth the investment?” This is one of the most common questions a client might face from its internal marketing or finance departments. To anticipate it, it’s always better to inspect what you expect and clarify the potential results. PR can now be data-driven, and metrics such as reach, opportunities to see, public relations search value, click-through rates, social media engagement, the effect on organisational performance etc. are available to report back to the client. Although building a brand takes time, at least you can both track its progress and make adjustments along the way. Most importantly, register the agency which brings up this topic before you do.
3. How’s the account managed and who is part of the team?
A PR agency may look after your account based on the initial time agreed through the contract, which takes into account the size of the project and the budget available. However, there have been situations where previous clients of ours have complained that the large PR firms they were working with were allocating the account to junior team members with not enough experience on their hands. Preferably, your company should have a senior PR manager on board, alongside executive account handling staff who undergo continuous professional training.
4. What would you have done differently?
When it comes to employing a trusted advisory group for your company, you should have the confidence that the team will be transparent and play the devil’s advocate with you, as the media and public opinion can be ruthless. Rather than being persuaded by a ‘yes’ person who sings your praises, opt for the consultants who can provide constructive feedback and have taken the time to look into your company’s history.
5. What do your other clients say about you?
Although some areas might be confidential, find out as much as you can on why the PR agency is valued by its previous and current partners. Jump at the chance of reviewing their case studies and seek direct feedback from its client roster. Word of mouth is still a trusted source, which is why we strive to achieve a similar positive experience for our clients’ customers.