Eleven sound steps to choosing the right PR agency

Twitter bombards us with an endless stream of ‘expert’ offerings on the 5, 6, or 10 key things to do to get the best out of social media.

This prompts us to offer up the following list of things to do before hiring a PR agency to make sure you get the best out of PR:

  • Be clear about why you feel you need a PR agency, and what you expect from one, especially if it’s your first time
  • If you’re replacing an agency you’re not satisfied with, first be honest about whether your expectations were realistic, and whether the PR budget you allocated was practical
  • Prepare a detailed PR brief explaining who you are, what you do, what you want to achieve through PR, and the range of services you expect from an agency
  • Make sure the brief contains PR budget guidelines
  • Avoid seeking three proposals and going for the cheapest
  • Do your own online research and ask around to find agencies with a good reputation based on what they’ve achieved for companies you know
  • Select one based on what your research, and your common sense, tells you is the agency for you
  • If you invite two or three agencies to pitch for your business – more than that really doesn’t make sense – make sure you meet the people who would be working on the account, not just the business development suits whom you’ll never see again after their presentation
  • Whether you end up talking to one or more agencies, make sure you appoint one that clearly understands you and knows what you want
  • Go with an agency that can explain in simple terms what they’ll do and convince you that they have the ability to deliver
  • Once you’ve appointed an agency, don’t expect miracles overnight, although you’re entitled to expect them to be professional in the way they service the account at all times

Remember, you’re investing in PR and should expect returns on that investment.  But set realistic targets in terms of results, and ask the agency to deliver regular (monthly) reports revealing what they’ve done and what has been achieved. 

For those of you who wondered why we ended up with 11 bullet points, it has nothing to do with this.