Top 5 Tips For Hiring A PR Agency
1.) Invest Your Time. Finding the right agency fit means taking the time to do your homework. Expensive office spaces and client name-dropping have little to do with work ethic, project success, client goal achievement or industry experience. Choose an agency that adds value to YOUR business or project. Will the agency meet your needs, provide a significant ROI and stay within your budget?
2.) Don’t Lose Your Mind Over a Mind-Blowing Pitch. We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s all in the presentation.” Well, sometimes, it absolutely is. Larger agencies tend to be phenomenal closers. Once you’ve signed a contract, however, will your account be passed to a junior staffer? When hiring an agency, consider the following: Will I have direct access to agency executives? Does the agency respond to me and/or my staff in a timely manner? Will the agency match the effort put forth during its pitch when dealing with day-to-day tasks and project deadlines?
3.) It’s Not A Trick Question. “What is your budget?” This is a legitimate question, not an attempt to pick your pocket. It allows agencies to quickly assess whether or not you are in the right place. Most clients who have never purchased professional services have no concept of industry standards, actual time involved and pricing. Is your budget realistic for the services you need? Ask the agency representative for a preliminary cost estimate, understanding that this (confidential) information typically will not be given over the phone.
4.) PR, Marketing and Advertising Are Not Synonymous. Is the company a PR agency that offers supplemental advertising, marketing and web services? Is it an advertising agency that offers PR, special event and social media services? While many agencies offer clients a full-service approach, most agency portfolios are built on one or two major areas of expertise. Inquire about these areas and determine if they match your most vital account needs.
5.) Media Coverage Is Never Guaranteed. “I’m friends with the editor.” That statement is about as relevant to receiving media coverage as is “I know the newspaper delivery boy.” No matter how great the media relationship, an agency cannot guarantee media coverage or other specific publicity outcomes. Even the slightest hint of a guarantee is a huge red flag. Typically, editors create an annual media schedule, in which press opportunities are scheduled weeks, even months in advance. A realistic expectation is that your agency strongly negotiate your inclusion into each media contact’s schedule, understanding that coverage may not always be possible.
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