Senior Director of PR & Operations at ChicExecs PR & Retail Strategy Firm.
Hiring a PR agency is a big deal. You’re probably going to work with this agency for at least six months, and you certainly don’t want to trust your reputation to just anybody.
You likely have a shortlist of agencies to choose from at this point. But how can you distinguish one from the other? You’ve got to ask the right questions so you partner with a PR agency that actually has your back.
Gather the right information so you can prove not only that the agency is worth its salt but also that the relationship is a good fit. Make sure you ask a prospective PR agency these six questions before signing a contract.
What’s Your Specialty?
Every PR agency has a specialty. Some agencies are more talented at digital PR, while others specialize in crisis communications. Instead of opting for an agency that offers a little bit of everything, I recommend going with an agency that does exactly what you’re looking for. This way, you know you’re working with a team of experts who will actually get results.
What Do I Get For My Budget?
You probably have a tentative budget right now. While you might need to adjust your budget for the right agency, it’s important to understand how much you get for the money with each agency.
For example, one agency might be more expensive, but if it offers more valuable services for the money, it could be better than a cheaper agency. Understand what features and benefits you’ll get for the money so you can pick a PR agency that meets your needs.
Who Will I Work With?
Since you’ll work with your PR team on a daily basis, it’s important to connect with your potential team before you sign a contract. This ensures you know which people will be on your account, what their roles are and how to contact them.
Make sure you have a video chat with your potential PR team. You want to make sure your work styles mesh and that your personalities are a fit. Nobody wants to work with people they dislike, so personality fit is a must.
Based On What You Know About My Company, What Approach Would You Take?
You aren’t asking the agency to create a fully-formed PR strategy here. The goal is to get a high-level view of their thought process and vision for your business. If you don’t agree with their vision, move on to the next agency on your list.
How Do You Charge?
Every PR agency is different, so make sure you understand their pricing model before you commit to an agency. Some PR agencies charge on an hourly basis, which means your costs will change from month to month. Other agencies charge a flat retainer fee every month, so you pay the same amount no matter what.
There’s no right or wrong answer here, but it’s important to choose an agency that fits your budget. If you’re price-sensitive and don’t like the unknown that comes with hourly billing, go with an agency that offers a retainer.
Can You Show Me Your Past Work?
Any PR agency worth its salt can share case studies and testimonials with you. This should show you not only that it has a proven track record but also that it can get results for your business. Look for case studies that feature solid data and specific examples to see how an agency works.
The Bottom Line
Choosing a PR agency is a big deal, so make the most informed decision possible by interviewing several agencies. Every agency call should be a two-way street. You need to gather information by asking the right questions, but a good agency will ask plenty of questions about your business, too. At the end of the day, you need to pick a firm that ticks all of the boxes and that passes a gut check. Ask these six questions to decipher which PR agency is the best fit for you.