How many times do you ask these questions when you look for a PR agency?
Public relations agencies of different hue and size may keep pitching with your organization, to get an opportunity to engage with your communication strategy and execution. And we have always seen that organizations just look for these – does your agency have the scale, size and a national/international presence, and would you be able to reach across all (including social) media, in every nook and corner of the world!
There is nothing wrong, and in fact, it’s important to check on what credentials your prospective agency comes with! Well, at the same time, it is important to bear in mind, that the agency must also have the ability and agility to engage in PR strategy and execution of an organization of your kind.
You may hire the best of the agency in the universe, but think about this – is there a point if their strengths do not sync with your company’s scale and strength, and what if their capabilities are more specific to large sized companies, and not for the kind your company is – a niche small organization, yet with its own unique service offerings or qualities.
So why not check for the following few, when you think it’s time for a PR agency.
- Does the agency have a history of delivering PR value to companies of your kind, and how often have they done it?
- Do they have the agility – not just in the pitch of theirs, but do they seem to fit your scheme of things – would they find synergy in working with a client like you?
- Do they have the kind of commitment to work with companies like you in the medium and long term, so that you eventually get the real benefit of engaging with an agency. Else, if you are just looking for one off bursts of media coverage, the need to spend time analyzing the agency can be done away with.
- Do they have the de-learning skills for adapting to your needs? This is so important. Like it or not, large and global agencies come with a mindset, and even if they are willing to do their best, they may not be if your communication needs are vastly different.
- Do they have an understanding of your specific industry needs, and would they be willing to invest the time and energy in gaining insights into your media visibility needs?
- Are they just a plain vanilla release churning agency? Or do they learn in-depth about you, see what works best for you, and showcase you?
- How much more credibility and enhanced image value can they bring to the table (not just across, but over a period of 2 – 3 years?
- Are they contemporary? Are they social in the true sense? And they in the business of facilitating the journalist world’s news crowd-sourcing efforts?
- In case your needs are local, do they have an insight into what works in that market/geography of yours? Sometimes an easy exercise in one part of the world, may not be even doable elsewhere. And they must be willing to tell this, straight on your face.
- Do they speak of practical and doable communication work? Sometimes large agencies are too good at large scale events, which will fetch some visibility burst; but the value that you derive from such exercise is zilch.
So, if you are looking at a PR agency to help you in your long term communication plans, ponder over these questions, and make sure that you understand the dynamics of the value promised.