Questions to Ask a PR Agency Before you Engage Them

Questions to Ask A PR Agency to Make Sure you get the Right One for YouQuestions to ask a PR

Hiring a PR agency can be a particularly difficult task. But knowing what questions to ask a PR agency is critical. Not only are you taking on a firm that quickly have to become a natural extension of your own team, but they must be true champions of your brand and everything it represents.

Whether you’ve worked with lots of PR agencies in the past, or you’re brand new to the whole sector, there are some questions that you should ask any PR agency before you engage them. And if they can answer all of the questions below to your satisfaction, then we say, snap them up!

1. What do you need to know about my business before you can get started?

2. Are you a Member of the PRCA or the CIPR?

3. What if it all goes wrong? Do you have the experience to manage negative news?

4. What experience and media contacts do you have in my sector?

5. How will you measure success with my account?

6. Do you work for anyone else in my sector?

7. How many people will be working on my account and when will they be available to me?

8. Who would be leading my account and how much PR experience have they got?

9. How long has the agency been going and what clients do you work for?

10. Do you have appropriate professional indemnity insurance?

Not Asking the Right Questions to Ask a PR Agency Can be Costly

I’ve included some tips below about the answers that you might want to look for, and what to consider, but we’d be really happy to have a chat with you about all or any of these in further detail. And remember that on top of all of this, you must feel comfortable that you’re in safe hands, must like the team that’ll be representing you, and feel confident that they’ll work with you to achieve the positive coverage you deserve.

1. What do you need to know about my business before you can get started?

Of all of the questions, I think that this is the most telling… PR agencies fall into two main camps. Those who report the news, and those who create it. News reporters will get you into the paper and you may even receive a call or two off the back of it – with the wind in the right direction and your fingers crossed of course. News creators will want you to share as much about your business plan as you can. Who are you targeting? What do you want them to do or say? What does success look like? What figures are involved? What’s your sales strategy? And a fair few more too. This way, they’ll be able to create a strategy for you that actually achieves more than just coverage for the sake of it

2. Are you a Member of the PRCA or the CIPR?

This is a biggie. There are two main organisations in the PR sector. The PRCA, or Public Relations Consultants Association can be joined by anyone in the industry, while the CIPR, or Chartered Institute of Public Relations makes you evidence your experience and your application also has to be supported by an existing Member. With the CIPR, it’s all about the individual’s experience and expertise, and as this increases, so too does their membership grade or status – ideally, we’d suggest looking for a ‘Member’ of this, and they’ll be able to use the letters MCIPR after their name

Of all the Questions to Ask a PR Agency this is Really Important

 

3. What if it all goes wrong? Do you have the experience to manage negative news?

Now, here your prospective agency should be telling you about their relevant issues management experience. And here’s a note to look for – if they call it ‘crisis management’ and then refer to anything other than Armageddon-type situations, they’ve read it in a book somewhere and aren’t the experts they claim to be. They should be telling you how they can set up an emergency reactive press office for you and their strategies to prevent, mitigate, and manage negative news. They should have tangible examples of what they’ve done, for whom, and if they don’t, then they’re probably going to be Googling ‘issues management’ the second you get off the phone or walk out of the door

4. What experience and media contacts do you have in my sector?

Lots of smaller PR agencies have very select experience – that is they’ve worked in some very specific sectors – and if those don’t include yours then they’re unlikely to be able to make the impact you want straight away. Sure, they can develop those contacts, but make sure you seek a guarantee from them that this won’t be in your time, and set some service level agreements to ensure they generate the results

5. How will you measure success with my account?

Now this is a good one. Lots of the less experienced or less reputable agencies won’t tell you that they can absolutely prove the return on your investment. You can either agree specific key performance indicators such as web traffic, PR use of specific (and searchable) key words, or you can track and monitor your success through your coverage. Each agency will use a different matrix, but we assess the coverage we receive using a variety of factors. Yes, we still consider the advertising equivalent value – how much the coverage would have cost on this page, on this day, presented in this way, if you’d paid for it – but we also look at audience suitability, impact and quality, quantitative inclusion of agreed core messages, and a few other factors too. Essentially, we can prove that the coverage had impact, that it was well targeted, that it met the brief, and that the agreed psychological drivers were there too

6. Do you work for anyone else in my sector?

Whilst not illegal, we think PR agencies representing companies in the same sector, same town, and working with the same clients, is plain bad form. After all, these guys are supposed to be your cheerleaders, your pom-pom-carrying, looking-for-every-opportunity, totally-committed-to-you team. And how can they share that? Any agency worth its salt will make you aware of any potential conflict of interest, and then it’s up to you whether you feel the boundaries are clear enough

7. How many people will be working on my account and when will they be available to me?

One-man agencies can do a great job, but if it’s important to you that someone’s always available on the phone then you might want to consider working with a larger company. And at the other extreme, if you’re all about personal relationships, a faceless multinational might be one to avoid. Think Goldilocks’ porridge and go for one that’s just right

Questions to Ask a PR Agency

8. Who would be leading my account and how much PR experience have they got?

Make sure that you’re not being passed onto the office junior, and that the person leading your account has at least five years experience. In-house expertise – where the person worked for an organisation, looking after their PR only – can be great if the company is in the same sector as you, but ideally you’re looking for someone who’s spent at least a little time working for an agency, as they’re likely to have more wide-reaching skills, media contacts, and experience

9. How long has the agency been going and what clients do you work for?

Don’t discount an agency because it’s newly launched, and don’t give extra credit to one that’s been around for decades. Yes, you need to know that the agency will still be here tomorrow, but also that it’s fresh and dynamic enough to move with the times and suggest a strategy to you which includes topical and current opportunities. And check who they’re working with – if your turnover is £1,000,000 but their other clients average £100,000 maybe you’re too big for them? Or else it may be the other way round and you’ll be a very small fish in their rather large pond

10. Do you have appropriate professional indemnity insurance?

Hey, these guys will have your reputation in their hands and you need to know that there’s some comeback in the event of any major mishaps. If they say no, or if they’re not happy to provide you with a copy of their documentation, then walk away.

Now you Know the questions to ask a PR agency make sure you do.

By Alan S Adams

Access the FREE workshop on Getting DEPTH™ in your business, click here WWW.GET-DEPTH.COM for more details and start developing a business that delivers you the lifestyle you want, with none of the stress.

About 

As an award-winning business coach and bestselling author, Alan S Adams has helped hundreds of businesses across the UK to move from simply surviving to positively thriving. The publication of his second book Passion To Profit: 7 Steps To Building A Kick-Ass Agency and his third book, The Beautiful Business: Secrets to Sculpting Your Ultimate Clinic, sees him focus very specifically on creative agencies and aesthetic clinic sector, sharing advice and guidance with the potential to revolutionise turnover, client retention and overall growth. Alan was also recognised by Enterprise Nation as one of the UK’s Top 50 Advisors and APCTC Coach of The Year Finalist.

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