Having worked in the public relations agency business for over 15 years, I’ve been involved with what seems like countless new business discussions, meetings, presentations and pitches, and while there are volumes of do’s and don’ts for agency folks to adhere to, it’s a two way street, and clients should be asking the following three questions of every PR firm in order to build a successful, long-term partnership.
- How do you measure success?This is not always the easiest question to answer, but it’s one of the most important to ask. If the agency’s idea of a successful partnership differs from yours, and more specifically, if their definition of results, KPIs, ROI, or any other acronym ending in “I” does not align with your vision of success, you’re entering a doomed relationship. Being on the same page in terms of what you’re both working towards is a crucial ingredient to a successful partnership.
It’s also important to be realistic and know that a major increase in sales can be a byproduct of a well-executed public relations campaign, but it’s never a guarantee. Quantity and quality of coverage, overall campaign sentiment, total media impressions (real impressions, not those manufactured through a newswire release) and social media reach/impact are all good measuring sticks.
- What’s your approach to account management and who will be the strategic lead? While it’s important to hire a PR agency that’s a great chemistry fit, narrowing it down even further, the people assigned to your account must be a strong match as well. Be sure to understand team structure, hierarchy, and who specifically will be representing your business and executing on your behalf. In many cases, depending on the size of the PR firm, an agency or division head will be engaged on your business, however that’s not always the case. Ultimately, you should look at the entire team and have a great rapport with and confidence in your day-to-day executives, because that’s whom you’ll be dealing with mostly.
At PublicHaus, this is something we take very seriously. We align all of our public relations clients with experienced account leads that work directly within our clients’ verticals through our nationwide network of independent PR and marketing pros.
- Why do you feel like you’re the right fit? A PR agency and its employees’ ability to connect their skills and experience with the business in question should be a strong indicator as to whether or not they’ll effectively communicate on your behalf. Ask those team members chosen to service your account how their specific experience will impact the success of the relationship. Not only will that give you insights into how well they truly understand your business, but also let you know if they will be effective, passionate communicators on your behalf.
The search for the right public relations company can be a tedious process, but it doesn’t have to be. You should feel good about your agency hire and it all starts with asking the right questions, even before requesting a proposal. Although a PR agency might be the ideal fit on paper, if their interpretation of success vastly differs from yours, no one wins in the end; and while hiring a public relations firm on a gut feeling sometimes works, knowing you’re making a fully informed decision feels a lot better and always sets the partnership off on the right foot.
– Post by Ryan Croy, PublicHaus Founder + CEO