We don't envy the job of an inhouse marketer or PR professional when it comes to deciding on which external PR agency to work with. It's a minefield of one-man bands, national agencies and global groups. Just how do you decide on who will be the best fit?
We think you should treat it like choosing your perfect home, here's a few reasons why.
Before we move home, my husband and I each draw up a list of criteria that we want from the new house. With aspects we don't want to compromise on, things we could live with but not be entirely happy about, and those that we really want to avoid. Combining our lists, we'll give it to the estate agent and use it to fuel many hours of Rightmove app scrolling. This simple preparation helps save time and money, and hopefully ensure a few less disagreements on the way. The same way a good brief will for a PR agency.
You need to get your brief clear and agreed by all parties involved internally. Set clear objectives and goals, what does success look like to you? Reason why you need an agency – is it the extra pair of hands to aid your busy press office, do they need to complete a project or task that you don't have the skills or time for, or is it a long-term relationship you'd like to build?
Be clear on what you need in response from the agencies and when, a guideline on budget is great as it provides a level playing field to all involved.
Of course, Rightmove is the holy grail when it comes to house searching, but there is a wealth of other sources to find your next home including traditional estate agents, word of mouth and physically visiting the streets for houses you'd love. Whilst a PR agency choice shouldn't really be made on location (we have clients based half a mile down the road and others in Amsterdam) you can use lots of sources to draw up a list.
Ask your LinkedIn contacts who they'd recommend, read lists compiled by media outlets, check the award winners and Google some key phrases 'digital PR agency in London' if that's what you're after. The more specific you can get at this stage, the better. If you've read about a great story in the press, try and find out the agency behind it. Set up Google alerts for your competitors to see which agencies have announced working with them. If time is of the essence, take a leaf from Yorkshire Water's book and put a call out in the press for agencies to come to you. Your brief should then whittle them down to a manageable list.
…a wise, Australian cutting-edge drama, once said. We've all done the late-night drive to a potential new neighbourhood, to see what it's like at different times of day. Are there raucous parties or people you'd really want to avoid? Hopefully not, but the peace of mind helps enormously. Which brings me to THE most important part of choosing an agency, their people.
Are they on board with your products and brand? Do you genuinely want them as an extension of your team? It's often down to unexplained chemistry, sometimes it just clicks. Don't ignore your gut but give them a chance to get to know you, they should be asking a million and one questions to get under the skin of your business at this stage. If you work in a niche market, the PR team should have experience or at least have shown they've done their own research, to best represent you. Like new neighbours, you'll be in close quarters for some time, so getting this right is key to your success and happiness.
This is of course just a few of the many aspects a brand should consider when choosing a PR agency. Hopefully it gives you a good start on the road to finding one that best fits your brand and needs and doesn't see you back at research stage again too soon. Although, I still look at Rightmove after I've moved to a new house, just me?
To explore whether Wolfstar could be the right agency for you, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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