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How to pick the best PR agency

How to pick the best PR agency

Four things to remember when choosing a PR agency

Whether you are reviewing your current PR arrangements, or are a newer businesses using a PR agency for the first time. Here are some golden rules to remember when making that PR move...

It’s the Team that Counts

While a big agency with big offices may feel like a very safe decision, your PR will only be handled by a small team of people.  So be sure you like and rate them.  Ask who will be your day to day contact. That really clever senior person, who pitches to you, is only of value if they are going to be actively involved in your account.  So interrogate the agency about how it runs accounts like yours. That’s not to say a big agency is a bad thing, just be sure you are making a decision based on the people not the offices. 

It’s not just press releases!

PR is all about communications. PR doesn’t stand for press release. So your PR should deploy all the communications tools that will be appropriate to your business. Media relations will no doubt be part of what you need, but social media may also be really important, you may need events to reach crucial audiences or perhaps some stunts or internal communications. Furthermore PR has the power to not only boost your company’s profile but also its search engine optimisation. You need a PR agency which understands this and is capable of delivering all aspects of the PR mix, not just press release writing.

Be Open

PR, when done well, has the power to really drive a business forward and help deliver the business plan. It can only do this if you are prepared to be open about your vision, where the company is heading, its barriers and issues. So if your agency doesn’t ask or care about the business plan, change them – and if you aren’t prepared to share your business plan, change your thinking! 

Measurement

This is a crucial. When speaking to prospective agencies ask what they will be measuring in your campaign. Don't prompt them with the answers, see what they say. In essence if they are still obsessing about measuring column inches DON'T use them. You want an agency that is keen to measure other things too - the stuff that means you are achieving your goals - this could be web traffic, downloads, enquiries, sales etc.

Louise Findlay-Wilson is a regular speaker and commentator on PR and social media issues. The owner of Energy PR (www.energypr.co.uk) Louise has worked in PR for over 25 years.  During this time she has handled campaigns for major brands ranging from Galt, the BBC, Cap Gemini and St Paul’s Cathedral through to exciting start-ups and owner- managed businesses – helping them use PR including social media to accelerate their growth.