7 questions you have to ask before hiring a PR agency

People working in modern agency relaxing during lunch break

If you missed any of our recent blogs on the importance of, and growing respect for public relations in the 21st Century, then don’t worry— here’s the link, and here’s another explaining the different between outsourcing this requirement and bringing it in-house.

For those already clear on the benefits of opting to hire a PR agency then we feel obliged to arm you with yet more ammunition, this time in the shape of seven questions that must be asked before bringing in your choice of PR agency partner. A vital step in ensuring your brand gets the most out of its investment, rather than wasting time and money.

Who are the current clients?

It’s all well and good for a PR agency to wheel out a list of big household names they have worked with in the past, but you really need to ask if these companies are still on their books. And if not, why not. Consider how long the brands stayed onboard, and the relevance of those brands to your own firm.

What’s the agency vision?  

Let’s face it, in the wildly-varied world of the media, there are numerous different approaches and perspectives. Making sure your vision is aligned with that of a PR agency is really important, as this should mean everyone sees eye-to-eye on how things should be done, what constitutes best practice and where exactly you see campaigns and ongoing work taking you both.

What does the team look like?

A great PR agency should shout from the roof about the quality of its staff and skill set, although not all will have a dedicated Team Page on their website like we do. Nevertheless, it should be pretty easy to find out who’s in the office, what they excel in and what they can offer you, using tools like LinkedIn search.

Photography of a pencil on gray paper arranged to a light bulb.

How creative are the staff?

Take a look at industry press, award nominations and wins to get an idea as to the kind of work the PR agency does, and the results garnered for other brands. From this you’ll be able to tell whether or not those working on the team value creativity highly enough or not. In a trade that’s all about grabbing attention with memorable work, this can make the difference between success and failure.

What does the sentiment surrounding the agency sound like?

Really all of the above will feed into this, but it’s a good idea to monitor any online conversations regarding the PR agency and client testimonials (along with when these were actually made), in order to get an accurate overview of just how respected they are. Remember— all comms roles are reliant on the ability to establish and maintain strong relationships, so what others in the game think of a company is incredibly telling.

How scalable would work with the agency be?

You might have found a great match in terms of agency vision, skillset, staff and reputation, but you don’t want to wind up having to go through the hassle of finding a new PR partner in 12 months time because you’ve outgrown the one you opted for at first. A strong PR agency will be able to work alongside everything from start-ups to market leaders, meaning you can expand and still stay in the same safe hands.

Is there tangible evidence of real industry expertise and future-proof knowledge?

Just because a PR agency is performing at optimum levels now doesn’t mean they will still be on top in another year, or even six months. The media moves incredibly fast— not least in digital realms— so you want to know the partner you choose stays up to date. Sign up for newsletters, check out in-house blog content, then ask yourself one question: ‘How much have I actually learnt from reading this content?’

If the answer is ‘very little’ then it’s probably best to look for another option.

 

Read our guide to earned media