A guide for PR first-timers and fed-up business owners
Not all PR agencies are created equal. Just like shopping for a new car, there are many different makes and models available, so it is important that you understand what you’re getting before engaging an agency.
Whether you are just starting your search for a public relations agency or looking for a fresh approach and better results, here are some of the key factors you should consider:
People and background
Any PR agency is only as good as its people, so checking the background and expertise of the agency’s team is an important first step.
The best communications consultants have many years of experience, often with a background in daily journalism. They understand storytelling and what makes news. They have the skills to identify your unique angles and the ability to tell these stories in the most compelling way.
It is also vital that your PR team understands your business objectives, target markets and customer drivers. Whether running a traditional media campaign, creating content for your own channels, or organising unique activations, make sure your agency is always on the same page as you.
Finally, an experienced team will bring ideas and opportunities to you and give you frank and fearless advice when it is needed.
Content and storytelling
One of the most important roles of your PR agency should be creating great content – in all its formats. Surprisingly, this is not always the case.
Telling an engaging story is only half the job. Accuracy, consistency and attention to detail should also be the hallmarks of a professional writer.
Be on the lookout for any tell-tale signs. Are there spelling errors or typos in the proposal or email you receive from a prospective agency? If you already have an agency, are they re-writing your content or are you re-writing theirs?
Remember, your PR agency is representing your brand, often to the most influential of all influencers – the media.
Capabilities and connections
Some agencies specialise in industry sectors or excel at specific functions. However, an experienced agency should be able to service any sector, even if it’s not an area they have worked in before. What’s more important are the capabilities and connections of your agency.
There is nothing like a background in journalism when it comes to quickly getting across any subject and communicating it in an engaging way. Developing and retaining long-term contacts is also a daily ritual for journalists.
Your agency should be just as capable at writing website content, award submissions and technical white papers as they are at media releases and social posts.
While all agencies should have good basic skills in marketing, stakeholder engagement, design, digital, events, photography and video, they should also know that you need the best person for each service. That means having a network of trusted, senior experts and knowing when to call on them to get the best results for you.
Responsiveness and flexibility
Unless you are also a business consultancy, agencies operate very differently from you.
Managing multiple clients, tight deadlines and competing priorities is never easy and requires a high level of efficiency and commitment. Regardless of whether you are the agency’s biggest client or their smallest, your needs are just as important.
A responsive agency will get back to you straight away. They will take your calls at night or on the weekend. They will ensure you make the most of all opportunities that come along.
Questions and answers
When choosing a PR agency, don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions.
All businesses want to grow and get more clients. But the best businesses also know how to look after the clients they already have. Ask your prospective agency how long their average client sticks around for, and ask for examples.
If your primary goal is media coverage, find out what stories the agency has achieved in the past 12 months. If you need issues management, social media support, website content, blogs, videos or any other services, ask for their experience and examples in all these areas.
If you haven’t worked with an agency before, or not for many years, your understanding of a modern PR agency might well be out of date. The definition of PR has broadened over the years to encompass the full range of communications channels open to your business.
At Pitch, we use our unmatched level of real media industry experience, content creation skills, connections and commitment to elevate our clients above their competitors.
Get in touch with us today to discuss your PR needs.