Ten best practices in the selection of a public relations agency
Once you have made the decision to invest in the services of a public relations firm, finding the right agency for you can be quite a daunting task. Here are the 10 best practices when deciding which is the best public relations agency for your business.
1. Identify what specific services you are looking for from your public relations firm. First and foremost, you must have a clear understanding of what exactly you and your brand seek to gain from enlisting the services of a public relations agency. Once you have a clear direction, you can begin to look for the agency with the services that will best suit your business’s individual needs.
2. Consider the scope of work that each agency provides. Are you looking for a firm that specializes in one specific aspect of public relations or would an agency that offers an array of marketing-related services, such as advertising and graphic design, better suit your needs? It is important to find an agency that can cater to all aspects of marketing that your business may require.
3. Choose an agency that is experienced in your specific industry. Most public relations firms specialize in a particular field, such as healthcare, energy, entertainment, government, or business-to-business. Picking an agency that is familiar with your respective industry will offer more understanding of your public relations needs and more personalized service.
4. Consider the location of each agency, and pick one that is near to your place of business. Working with a public relations firm that is easily accessible will ensure that you receive a quick response time on deadline or in an emergency situation, as well as the most personalized service possible. Additionally, having representation in your area ensures that your firm is familiar with the demographic market in your area, as well as prove to be much more convenient than a firm that is out-of-state.
5. Use an agency’s own marketing strategy as the ultimate sample of their work. It is crucial to assess the online presence of each public relations firm that you are interested in, as well as their overall brand representation. Looking at how they advertise themselves is one of the most effective ways to analyze their strengths and weaknesses. If an agency can’t successfully represent their own business, then it is a clear indication that they won’t have the capabilities necessary to effectively represent your business.
6. Choose an agency that understands your company’s history. In order to effectively forge a clear plan for your future, the firm that you choose must first understand the roots of your brand. If they don’t clearly understand where your business is coming from, then they won’t be able to successfully brand your company for future growth and success. Additionally, if they make the effort to understand your background, it shows their dedication and strong interest in acquiring you as a client.
7. Research the relationships with media that each potential agency has to offer. Ask about each firm’s media connections, and choose representation that is well connected to media representatives that are relative to your field. It is important that the agency you choose can connect you to the appropriate media outlets in order to provide a successfully implemented media relations model for your business.
8. Consider the agency’s existing clientele. Becoming familiar with an agency’s client list will give you an indication of their area of expertise and experience level, as well as alert you to any potential conflicts of interest that they may have. It will also serve to validate their services, and provide you with an understanding of their scope of work and capabilities.
9. Ask for the opinions and recommendations of your colleagues. Nearly 90 percent of the public relations business is based on referrals, whether they are from current clients, past clientele, business colleagues, personal friends and family, or community leaders. An experienced and respectable agency will have a reputation that speaks for itself.
10. Ensure that you and the agency you choose mesh well together. It is vital to your working relationship that the public relations firm you choose has a culture and style that is comfortable for you. Your business and your agency will have the most successful relationship possible if you can establish a symbiotic working dynamic. When meeting with multiple firms, it is best to choose the agency you feel will not only best service and represent you, but one that you will enjoy working with.
When you invest your dollars into public relations services, it is vital to pick an agency that can best help you meet your marketing goals in a cost effective and timely manner. Following these practices for choosing a public relations firm will ensure that you can choose the agency that is the best fit for your business.
Elizabeth Trosper is principal in Trosper Communications LLC. Contact her at 775-313-9173 or Elizabeth@trospercommunications.com.
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