The search for a public relations and marketing agency can be daunting. With so many agencies boasting similar claims, it can be difficult to sift through the differences to find the perfect fit.
These days, agencies offer myriad services. Some specialize in specific strategies and tactics – such as media relations, digital marketing, social media or web development – while some serve as one-stop shops. Other agencies form strategic partnerships with one another to provide their clients with the best combination of specialized services.
So how do you know who is the right fit for your organization and needs? When vetting potential agencies, these criteria can help narrow your search:
- They Take Time to Understand Your Brand and Culture – It’s impossible to craft a successful PR or marketing campaign without a deep understanding of a company’s brand, service and/or product. Look for an agency that will spend time learning about your company, history, people, customers, culture and competitive differentiators.
- They Align Their Strategy with Your Goals – The best PR strategies are thoughtfully aligned with your business goals. A good agency will review your business’s short- and long-term goals and will determine how PR efforts can work in tandem with everyday operations to help achieve those goals.
- They Measure Results – Depending on your tactics and goals, an agency should provide relevant recommendations for establishing baselines and measuring progress. Metrics vary from company to company, so the expert guidance can be crucial.
- They Really Know Their Stuff – Seek out PR and marketing agencies with expertise in your industry or in the type of campaigns you want to launch. The account team should be able to demonstrate in-depth knowledge, provide case examples, offer references and discuss the effectiveness of various combinations of tactics and strategies.
- They Introduce the Account Team – It’s a smart move to meet with the people who will be working on your account, day to day – not just the top brass. There can be skill and knowledge gaps that aren’t apparent at first. Plus, you will want to jive on a personal level, just like you would with any other person on your team. Positive relationships will promote more creativity, motivation and innovation.
- They Bring Valuable Media Relationships – Media relations is an integral part of most PR campaigns. Look for a PR agency that has strong relationships with editors and reporters within your industry and/or geography. These relationships are essential for consistently placing stories and helping spokespersons build a rapport with key journalists.
- They Know When to Say No – Be wary of “yes men” that simply agree with everything you say, without adding any valuable guidance to achieve your goals. The mark of a great agency is that they will provide honest and credible feedback at all times, even if that means disagreeing with a particular direction. That said, they also need the knowledge and expertise to explain why they disagree, and offer alternative tactics that may be a better fit.
- They Are Team Players – A successful PR or marketing campaign is never the result of one person’s work – it’s a team effort. Your agency should place great importance on collaboration. Open communication and active cooperation help keep ideas flowing and hold team members accountable.
Investing time to research and interview prospective agencies will pay off in the long run in the form of a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship that will help take your business to the next level.