Finding the right PR agency can be a real challenge for any organisation. Their work will directly influence your company internally, as well as its reputation. For that reason, it is necessary to make an effort and take the time and dedication necessary to hit the nail on the head. Before anything, you have to be sure that you really need an agency: many firms hire a PR agency because they think it is the right thing to do, or because it’s what the competitors are doing. But there is no way that it will work if they have not previously decided internally what they want to achieve from it. This is why your company must define first of all what communications objectives you are looking for, and then make the decision based on those objectives.
Once you have made the decision of hiring a PR agency, and you are clear about what you need from them, you will face the complicated task of choosing the best one according to your objectives. How will you know if the agency will fit with your company and philosophy? It is not an easy work, but leaving apart aspects such as budget or geographical presence, which will also be decisive, there are some key aspects you should always consider before making the choice:
It is important that you feel you can trust your agency as if it was part of your own organisation. You will need to work really close with them, therefore you should require them to take in all that is relevant about your history, values, philosophy and trajectory, as well as to understand and share your objectives. There should be a close relationship between both firms, and a true comprehension of the common objectives and targets.
PROFESSIONALISM AND HONESTY
The prior does not mean that you should expect plain obedience and no questioning from the PR agency. You are hiring a team of professionals, and you must make sure that they will be honest when advising on the best strategies and actions, even when they contradict your initial plans. If you trust them us professionals, you should listen and follow their advice. For this reason, it is important that you are certain about their responsibility and have confidence in their judgement.
The best way to confirm their professionalism is being aware of their experience and studying their trajectory. You can examine the results of their work with other clients, and learn about their achievements and results. It is also important that the agency itself and the members of its team have proved background on your sector, or related ones. Usually you will be able to find this information on their websites and blogs. If there is no available information about their work and their clients, you can be suspicious.
You will expect qualified professionals to take care of your communication. If what you need is media relations, you must look for a team that is well connected with the media, and have a deep understanding of the media industry and how journalists work. If you require advice on a crisis situation, you must be sure that the professionals are skilled in crisis communications and will respond adequately. Also, it is essential that they posses a solid knowledge of all the social media platforms and tools, and that they are active users in this channels. An agency that boasts about its social media expertise and only tweets once a week is unconvincing. The more varied the team, the better: a diverse crew with different and complementary abilities will be much more flexible, creative and innovative to come with the better solution whatever your needs are.
Above all, you will want your agency to be transparent and communicative. As well as you would not hire a fraudulent tax advisor, in the PR and communications sector you must demand a total lack of opacity. A good PR agency will be clear about its work, its methodology and its actions, and will be reliable on its procedures and results. Their ultimate mission is to communicate, therefore they will be accessible and straightforward to avoid any misunderstanding.