If something is for everything, it is usually for nothing. The same saying applies to PR agencies. Sometimes PR agencies offer support in everything. (Corporate, product, internal, public affairs, market research, social media, SEO?). On top of that, they do it for customers in every possible industry. It is possible, of course, that you have just come across the website of a large network PR agency. But it is also possible that you have before your eyes the offer of a PR agency focused on “catching” every possible client, regardless of its specifics. A good PR agency is one that specializes in specific industries (e.g. technology) or in specific services (e.g. media relations). Such agencies can also say “no” to a client whose products are “from another fairy tale”.
If you want to find out how you will be served, check what professional path the owners of the agency have gone through. Experienced owners, at a certain stage of professional development, themselves carried out communication projects for external clients in other agencies. If the head of the agency does not have award-winning communication projects and testimonials of satisfied customers and colleagues on LinkedIn, you should have a warning light. Bosses with random experience in other industries (e.g. only media) will most likely not be able to enforce high-quality project implementation among their employees.
You will know the best agencies by their clients and completed projects. Here, however, you need to be careful. A common procedure among agencies is to post only logos of companies with which the agency cooperated. More important than “for whom”, however, is the answer to the question “what”. Ask about the scope of the projects and what measurable effects were achieved. The best agencies publish cases of communication projects implemented for their clients on the website. If the agency is able to present the effects of work for projects implemented for a company similar to yours, there is a chance that it will be able to prove the effects also for you.
Who will do the service for us? This should be one of the main questions you will ask the agency. Good agencies employ PR specialists with experience and educate their own staff. In the best agencies, employee turnover is low. Projects are managed by people who can advise, and not just passively execute the client’s orders. A competent consultant will be able to provide recommendations and show the risks arising from the client’s decision. If you want the highest level of service, make sure that an experienced PR specialist will work for you. And he will not be just a figurehead present only when submitting the offer.
To prepare an effective offer of PR services, we need to get to know you. Therefore, at the stage of preparation, it is important to get as much information as possible from the client. Good agencies ask for a tender brief and inquire about nuances that can have a key impact on effectiveness. If at the first meeting with a PR agency its representatives ask a lot of questions and carefully listen (note) the answers, this is a good prognosis for the future. On the other hand, if they propose actions and ignore your timid attempts to interject your “but”, you can expect trouble at the cooperation stage.
A good PR campaign is always based on an excellent communication strategy. It is also distinguished by a unique insight regarding the recipient. The best PR agencies, before offering you communication activities, will precisely describe your target group, define measurable communication goals, do market analysis and look at the communication activities of the competition. Only on this basis will they propose communication activities.
The Public Relations services market has changed dramatically in recent years. Mass sending of press releases, running a press office, organizing press conferences? These actions no longer make the slightest sense today. Building relationships with opinion leaders. Cooperation with influencers and external partners. Production of high quality content and video distribution. Creation and positioning of dedicated substantive websites. Conducting engaging communication in social media. This is just a snippet of the possibilities. Outstanding agencies differ from the average ones in that, going with the times, they are able to offer creative solutions which have a chance of really engaging the representatives of the target group.
As in any consulting service, the real value in Public Relations is not that we can screw in 60 screws in 60 minutes, but that we can advise where to screw in the right one. If your PR agency is a “yes-man” who agrees with everything you say, you’d better start gettng worried. Agreeing to each of your ideas may mean the lack of the expected effect or, what is worse, a negative effect in the form of a media crisis. Then the agency will explain that “the client’s wished so”. If, on the other hand, you are dealing with a consultant who proactively proposes actions, can justify them and defend his recommendation in a discussion with you, there is a chance that a good PR agency works for you.
Public Relations is not a pharmacy. Even the best PR strategy is useless if it doesn’t take into account internal constraints on the client’s side. Sometimes it’s about the budget. Sometimes it’s about time. Sometimes it’s about the availability of people. And sometimes there are specific expectations in terms of the shape of the campaign. A good PR agency listens and then is able to modify its offer so that it meets 100% of the client’s expectations on the one hand and, on the other, so that it continues to meet its objectives. If for some reason this is not possible, they has the courage to inform the customer about it.
Sometimes, however, it turns out that during the implementation of activities there are unforeseen circumstances that affect the effectiveness of the campaign. Good agencies are able to react flexibly to the changing environment and offer the client a creative solution. Average PR agencies, on the other hand, will blindly implement the assumed activities, because this is how “it was signed”.
The best PR agencies usually impose high standards of work. The materials sent by them never contain linguistic errors. Everything is planned in advance and sent on time. Striving for perfection can also be seen at the level of work effects. Those agencies that achieve spectacular results usually do not make empty promises, but deliver results that exceed the expectations of clients.