Looking for a PR agency? Determine exactly what you want to achieve first
You are a small business owner and you want to hire a professional PR agency. Before you hand over a significant sum (required if you want a quality service but which sum is not a negligible amount for a small business) to an agency, consider what you want to achieve and therefore what kind of PR agency you are looking for/need.
Yes, we sell PR services, but you might find it more effective to hire the services of a marketing or media agency. PR can work wonders for your business but before you begin in-depth discussions with potential PR consultants consider the following questions. You could save yourselves money and a good amount of frustration. Entrepreneur tackled this subject, and here we provide our own version of the questions you should ask yourself and the agency you plan to work with.
- What would you like to achieve through PR? You are not sure what ROI to expect? Maybe it would be better to wait before investing in public relations. The answer that “you would to get a little media coverage” is not good enough either. Put your money to better use by investing in your employees. And if you want media coverage so desperately, take out an ad. In short, before getting in contact with a PR agency consider whether you want to improve sales, customer or client relationships, find project partners…? It does make a difference whether you need more likes on your Facebook page, an influential topic in the business media or the front page of the most popular daily papers. A PR agency should also be able to offer you the best way to measure the effectiveness of your PR efforts. The answer to this question is longer than all the others because, apart from being the starting point for anyone considering PR activities, it is unbelievably often the most vague. Or just the most difficult one to articulate.
- Which media would you like to target? Whether online or print media, your PR agency should know how best to deliver your message to as many as possible within your target audience. A combined media approach is often the most effective so do check what experience the agencies you are interested in working with have. But do not expect the agency to provide you with fully-shaped ideas – you will get those once you agree to work together. That’s the “stuff” that serious agencies sell – they don’t give it away to you just to win you over.
- Is the agency familiar with your industry? If the agency has already worked with businesses in your industry, you will save on the time necessary for them to get acquainted with the basic concepts of the industry and other important aspects such as industry journalists, institutions and organizations, legal frameworks and potential threats, including your competition.
- Who will advise you? The experience of the person who “got” you, at least in Croatian agencies, is at the whole team’s disposal – even if that person does not personally lead the daily operations of your account. You did not purchase a cat in a bag so please don’t take it as a sign of the agency downgrading your importance as a client if that more experienced individual does not work on your account the whole time. It is just a matter of assigning work internally according to the demands of each task. Please don’t expect the director to personally write flash news items for the web, but if you hire the right professionals, the director will jump in and do just that if the situation suddenly requires it.
- Short-term or long-term cooperation? An agency that routinely follows you knows your business well, monitors and analyses the media picture, can work proactively for you and is on stand-by whatever you require from their business. But you do not have to be bound by an eternal contract. It’s okay to have a probationary period of several months or hire an agency for a specific project only.
- How to work out the contract details? You can talk about the payment of the agency’s services in several ways: you can immediately disclose your budget and see what kind of proposal you receive or request a pricelist and “add to your basket” until you reach the limit of your budget (not recommended). You can also ask for a custom service tailored to your needs, which will include the estimated time spent on your account and the value of the deal. Or you could share the risk of investment of hiring an agency by getting PR services at a more affordable price and pay a commission once your goals have been achieved.
- Does the agency offer media training? Do you need it? Are you expecting a crisis other than the ongoing economic one or are you working on a high interest project that will launch your company into the media spotlight? If you think you may need to speak publicly on behalf of your company, it is a welcome option, especially if you are considering a long-term relationship with the agency. Your agency may also recommend trusted professionals if they do not offer media training themselves.
- How will you communicate? Do you need a PR consultant 24/7 to manage your Facebook page or does having a consultant available during office hours better suit the nature of your business? Immediately identify your desires, needs, and opportunities. Whatever you decide your PR agency will no doubt make itself more available to you if an urgent matter arises.
- What is left for you to do? To participate. Share information, opinions and ideas. Ask questions, give answers. Communicate. Decide whether you will actively be involved in, for example, social networking or whether the agency will do that for you. Find out what the agency needs from you in order to do its job successfully for you and make sure you give them what they need, thus sharing the responsibility of success.
The original article was published on 28th January 2015.
Tags: media relations, Krešimir Macan, Katarina Leko, Manjgura, PR agency
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