The right PR agency can be the difference between a business that thrives in the public eye and one that fades into obscurity. With a multitude of agencies vying for your attention, how do you ensure you’re choosing the partner that truly aligns with your business’s needs and vision?
What Does a PR Agency Do?
You can use whatever term you want – public relations firm, PR team, PR agency, PR firm – it’s all the same. These are businesses that focus on helping other businesses or individuals enhance their public perception. You often hear about famous celebrities having PR agencies to control their narrative or help them find and book media, but businesses need these services, too.
“PR firms come in all shapes and sizes as well. Some offer a boutique selection of services, while others have massive teams devoted to just about every aspect of marketing and external communications a business could need,” entrepreneur Kate Churkina writes.
A good PR firm is going to handle a variety of tasks, including:
- Reaching out to industry professionals, media, and vendors to discuss exciting new developments that are taking place with your company
- Fielding and answering questions or inquiries that come from outside sources, freeing the folks in the business up to focus on their core roles
- Managing outreach and building positive relationships with possible industry partners or influencers
Honestly, that’s just scratching the surface. But it gives you a decent idea of some of the specific roles PR agencies embrace.
What to Look for in a PR Agency
As you evaluate different suitors, here are some of the factors we recommend looking for:
Answer a question real quickly. If you owned an expensive Ferrari and it started having engine issues. Would you take it to the Goodyear Auto Service branch nearby, or would you schedule an appointment with a Ferrari dealership? You’d take it to the folks who only work on Ferrari’s, right? You want someone who eats, sleeps, and breathes this stuff. The same should be true when selecting a PR agency.
Don’t just hire a random PR agency. Find a company that specializes in working with businesses inside your industry. If you’re a tech company, hire a tech PR agency. They’ll have a better grasp of the industry, as well as stronger relationships with the people and businesses that you want to get in front of. The same goes for finance companies, food businesses, law firms, and everything in between.
Past Client Successes
You have to remember that PR agencies are great at crafting an image. While they do this for their clients, they also do it for their own firms. That means looks can be deceiving. The best way to cut through the facade and understand if a PR agency is who they say they are is by looking at past client success stories.
Ask the agency for permission to actually reach out to some of their past or current clients. If an agency is willing to let you talk to their clients, this is a good sign that they believe in the value they bring to the table.
Cultural Fit and Communication
You’re going to spend a lot of time working directly with your PR agency. They’ll almost become a part of your business. Thus, it’s imperative that you’re on the same page. When your values and mission align, working together feels seamless.
A shared cultural foundation can translate into a deeper understanding of your brand, its goals, and the audiences you’re targeting. And here’s the thing – it often leads to PR strategies that are more in sync with your business’s identity and objectives.
Here are two things to focus on as you prioritize cultural fit:
- Communication style: Before making a decision, assess the agency’s communication style and responsiveness. Are they proactive in sharing updates and progress reports? Do they listen actively and seek your input? Gauge whether their communication aligns with your expectations and preferences.
- Transparency: Does the team seem to be open and honest with you at all times? Or do they carefully optimize what they say and how they interact with you? You want an agency that doesn’t sugarcoat things and is willing to give you the raw truth.
If your values are aligned and there’s harmony with communication style and transparency, these relationships usually thrive. This is where we’d recommend focusing your energy.
Making the Right Decision
With so many different PR agencies and companies out there, it’s challenging to know which one to pursue and which ones to turn down. Ultimately, that decision is yours to make; however, you can improve your chances of finding a good fit by prioritizing some of the different factors discussed in this article. Do your due diligence, be patient, and trust your gut!