The Right Image Blog
5 Effective Steps For Choosing A PR Company
We aren't pretending that these are the only steps or the most important ones for your organisation. However, they are extremely helpful and with particular respect to point No 5 they can also be pretty effective!
1 Get Your Ducks In A Row First.
Decide what you need to achieve from PR by defining a clear brief with specific deliverables. You should also decide the target media at the outset. There is no point hiring
someone if you don't know what to expect of them! The groundwork always pays off. Also when you are writing the brief, don't just follow what your competition are doing – be unique if at all possible. Otherwise.... how can you ever outflank them?
Within the brief, form a view of the kind of PR strategies that you might need. These might, for example include: product PR, corporate positioning strategy, corporate social responsibility or potentially even crisis management. In addition, do you need the PR company to provide media training or are your chosen spokespeople already fully press savvy?
What other skills does the PR company need to have – i.e. social media, SEO, branding, video production or even event management? If you already have other agencies
in these fields, ask yourself how would you dovetail these with the new PRs once on board?
2 Draft a shortened shortlist!
Here's a good idea to provide focus and to save you time – ask some of the journalists in your industry for the names of a couple of PR people that they respect and who they think might suit a company such as yours.
Alternately, pick complementary but non-competitive companies that you admire in the press and ask their marketing managers who they use for PR. I bet you that in both of the above cases it's the smaller or midsize PR companies that come out on top. Sometimes the same names might well percolate through.
3 Meet The Right Person
Demand to meet the person who will manage the account not just the 'account getter' / sales person. Ideally, you want a senior person working on your account. This is
someone who has a strategic perspective and who can hunter-gather key opportunities. You should check how often this person aims to be in contact with you once appointed – hopefully several times a week or more!
You do NOT want account juniors or worse interns masquerading as Account Managers in name only! These are often a considerable liability.
In addition, ask yourself: does the PR company that you are reviewing 'get' your business? This is more than just a few friendly smiles on first meeting! Do they really know your business or what you need? Many won't ... so that should help narrow the field.
4 Get The Basics Out The Way & Compare
Compile a comparative spread. This includes: relevant experience, daily rates and expense chargeback rates, potential conflicts, social media credentials – and where
possible references. Also check the accreditations of PR companies and key players: Are they CIPR, PRCA, Guild of PR or even UKPAC. This should limit surprises e.g. that you don't find out that none of the PRs working for you are CIPR members until after you have appointed them.
Also check out their expectation of budget – you might be shocked or pleasantly surprised. It's better that you give them some idea of budget rather than to ask them to quote
blind – this allows you to judge their reaction to what you say... and that can be quite telling.
5 Stress Test Them At The Pitch
Here's the really good way of separating the wheat from the chaff. Without warning - ask the person or one of the people who will be working on your account (from
each potentially suitable agency / consultancy) to go into a separate room with a pad of paper or a PC. Give this person a short brief on say a new product or
company development and ask them to write a press release then and there over say the next 30 / 40 mins. Later cover the cost of a journalist, from your
sector, to review the anonymous scripts and to pick the one they would be most drawn / impressed by in a professional capacity. The winner is the PR company you should choose for sure.
If you have found these words to be of value and if you have a B2B or IT campaign that requires PR or Digital Marketing know how to be applied, then please feel free to add us to your shortlist – if you would like to include us then call Leigh Richards on 0844 561 7586 and he'll discuss how you can get The Right Image for your business...