Choosing a PR Agency

PR Agency16-POINT GUIDE TO CHOOSING AND USING A PR AGENCY

1.  PR has an important and valuable contribution to make. Begin only when you are convinced that there is a role for professional public relations within your organisation.

2.  There are horses for courses, even in public relations. Select a consultancy that has the skills you require, that has the reputation for working with organisations and issues similar to your own. Choose one that will relish the challenge and can handle the work that needs to be done.

3.  Choose the firm that can demonstrate success. Request a credentials presentation to include case studies of projects similar to yours. Look for the one whose feet are firmly on the ground and don’t be afraid to seek proof that the one you choose can deliver you value for the fees they’ll charge.

4.  Relationships between client and consultancy are all important. You must have confidence in the people that represent you, knowing that your relationship is one built on trust and confidentiality. Choose the firm that can maintain and sustain its relationships with clients.

5.  Lean towards the firm that has empathy and an understanding of your operations and the goals you have set for your business; one that can quote past experience in situations similar to those that apply in your case.

6.  Ask about the methods they use to calculate value and the monitoring and reporting mechanisms employed to ensure that the investment you make is matched by the return you get.

7.  Ask around and make enquiries. Contact referees and ask about those key performance indicators upon which a successful client/consultancy relationship is built. The firm for you will be one whose clients speak well of it and would be prepared to recommend its appointment. Content yourself that it has the respect of its suppliers and those intermediaries such as journalists and others upon whom they depend for support and success.

8.  The city is full of firms that want your business. What you need is a firm that wants your work. A firm that wants your work will be one hell bent on making sure that their appointment will be justified. It will be self-motivated and driven by its own determination to achieve results and deliver value. A firm that wants your business will be one focused on securing their next account after yours is safely in the bag.

9.  Know on whose shoulders responsibility for the management of your account will be placed. Be confident that day-to-day management will rest with one who will be efficient, confident, and safe-handed in the discharge of their duties and have the support and input of colleagues with the skills and experience to guide your affairs.

10. Guard against the firm in which work is assigned to juniors who lack experience and where personnel are forever changing.

11.  Seek the firm that is prepared always to be truthful, to fight for the ideas and opinions that it has and which has the confidence and judgment to sometimes tell a client what s/he may not wish to hear.

12.  Do not be put off if the firm you choose seems, at first, to move at a slow pace. Better the firm that takes its time and gets things right than one that burns rubber before all the ‘i’s’ have been dotted and ‘t’s’ crossed.

13.  Because developments in digital communications move so rapidly, few can reasonably claim to be expert in all aspects. In choosing a firm to represent you in this area, pick one that has a genuine, demonstrable knowledge of the subject, the realism to know what it can and cannot do, the judgment to know when third-party input is required and the wit to know the difference.

14.  And then there is the small matter of fees, expenses, credit terms and contract, all of which should be the subject of individual negotiation and agreement. Fees should be sufficiently scaled to guarantee that the needs of both parties are served. An allowance should be set aside to allow the firm recover genuine out-of-pocket expenses, but not to profit from them.

15.  Credit terms should be such as to ensure that the consultancy’s enthusiasm and appetite for work is not dulled by a concern that its efforts are less than fully appreciated, as extended credit terms might suggest.

16.  A contract can be anything from a simple handshake to a letter of appointment or a bulky signed, sealed and bound agreement. Regrettably, a contract written on paper is often as worthless as the paper on which it is written, when need arises. Better the simple handshake, it being the basic form of contract upon which people of honour should be able to rely.