Selecting the right PR agency can be a task fraught with difficulty and making the wrong choice could be damaging to your business. We know from experience that many agencies will promise you the earth with no chance of being able to deliver – and some will even cost the earth too! To help, we’ve devised a simple check-list for hiring a PR agency:
1. Do they produce effective communications?
By far the most important thing you should look for in a PR agency is whether they can write effectively and in a way that speaks to your stakeholders. Ask to see examples of their work; by-lined articles they have written on behalf of clients, stories they have placed in the publications that matter to you, whether that be national newspapers or trade magazines.
2. Will a senior consultant be working on your account?
Many agencies will approach you via a senior member of staff during the pitching process and then pass you over to a less experienced account manager. You may even be targeted by an aggressive salesperson with little experience of PR or knowledge of what the agency can really offer you. Tala is different. Our MD, Andrew, manages every single account, with support from the senior consultants and account executives. Our team approach means you get the best of both worlds in terms of top-level strategic consultancy, as well as qualified professionals to do the leg work.
3. Can they work with social media?
Social media can be one of the most effective and efficient tools for spreading your key messages, but trusting an external agency to become your voice online can be hugely daunting – not to mention risky! Ask for examples of the social media channels that they manage and look at what they’re posting.
4. Will they be there in a crisis?
Your key objective might be to increase awareness of your brand, but as your profile increases and you stick your head further above the parapet, you might become more open to criticism and negative attention. Choosing an agency with experience in crisis and issues management is essential as they will have an awareness of the risks involved when dealing with the media, and will know exactly what course you should steer, should the worst happen.
5. Have they worked in your sector?
You may be looking at a specialist agency for your industry, or perhaps a regional one with good contacts in your area. If you are, make sure that they don’t lack the contacts and expertise in other areas, or have potential conflicts of interest with other clients. We’ve worked across industries from HR to quarrying of rock, running effective local and national campaigns, and found that maintaining a broad spectrum of clients across sectors keeps our consultants at the top of their game.
6. Will they be available when you need them?
We pride ourselves on our availability and response time with clients – and that extends to potential new clients too. Top tip – try calling the office number or even the mobile of your contact, and check whether they will make themselves available for you whenever required.
7. When things aren’t going well, or when you want to celebrate, who do you call?
We’re part of our clients’ teams, but more than that, we help guide our clients through tricky issues, internal politics and crunch situations. Would you feel comfortable sharing your personal hopes, fears and aspirations with your PR consultant?