Each company must be visible so that its offer will reach potential customers. The job of Public Relations professionals is to build the awareness and image of a brand, as well as to influence its relationships with the environment. Each PR agency will provide you with a team of professionals, its know-how, contacts etc., but not every single one will be a valuable partner for you. How then to choose the right one?
You know perfectly well that hiring an agency specialising in a specific service or industry will enable quicker implementation of a project and faster results, which may then give you a significant advantage in the marketplace. A good PR agency will navigate your resources with an approach that will complete the task in the best possible light. How can you tell then that an agency offers a fitting level of services?
What is their expertise?
When looking for a partner for cooperation, first check that the agency knows your industry well, e.g. whether it has been responsible for a similar project for clients from your industry or if it has experience in the specific services that you need, for example, media relations, copywriting or events organisation. Representatives of an agency should recognise and feel the specific characteristics of your company quickly and know how to give you advice about an apt style of communication and applicable tactics. Make sure that the PR agency can communicate with your target group, understands its specific features and has good relationships with the media that are key for you. Note! If you are looking for an agency for one project, not for regular services, e.g. for the organisation of a press conference or an event, then expertise in your industry will not be essential.
When deciding on which agency to choose, it is worth taking into account the answers to the following questions:
- How does the agency communicate with the audience on its website? Isn’t this a case of ‘the shoemaker’s children who are ill-shod’?
- Does the agency disclose a list of customers and opinions about itself?
- Is it engaged in a dialogue with prospective clients? What channels does it use for communication?
- Is the agency present in places other than its website, e.g. in communication with industry organisations, in specialised press? Are there any publications describing it?
- Is the agency financially stable?
- Does it have any additional assets (employs a graphic designer, a lawyer, a translator)?
- Has it got the possibility of providing comprehensive, or rather specific services?
- Is it big or small?
Big agencies usually provide a wider range of services and tools that enables a comprehensive service. On the other hand, the running costs of such an agency are bigger, so the price of the service will be appropriately higher. A smaller agency, however, provides a wide scope of services less frequently and focuses on a specialisation; it is flexible, less bureaucratic and… cheaper. It often enters into a closer relationship with customers, gets to know them better, thanks to which it may more easily adjust its activities. In the first place, it is important to know what you need, in detail. Thus armed with this information, the path to deciding size and suitability of the agency is smoother.
Do they respect customers?
A professional agency always prepares an offer adjusted to each individual client. Its preparation requires a great deal of work so you will not receive it at once. First an agency will carry out an audit and research your brand and its environment; it will ask for completion of a brief and will devote considerable time to it because these activities are crucial for the results of a campaign. A good agency never offers general solutions, it does not promise a “pie in the sky” and it doesn’t give a 100% guarantee of a result. Professionals with knowledge and experience, and who can accurately assess current trends etc., can only estimate when the first results of implemented activities will be visible. In the PR arena, agencies can only guarantee completion of their tasks at the highest possible level. A well-matched agency understands your business and wants to take care of its development. Aside from this, it is able to offer realistic solutions and is flexible (will propose a range of actions adjusted to your possibilities). Professionals are also not afraid of criticising a customer’s idea if it is not the best one, and they know how to justify their opinions.
How to start cooperation?
Pay attention to who the agency entrusts your request to – e.g., it isn’t a trainee, for example. Your project should be taken care of by permanent consultants; those dedicated to cooperation with customers create a more effective relationship and fully understand company values. Their identification with a brand is much greater and their work is more efficient.
At the beginning, you need to determine goals, cooperation scope and ways of assessing the results, and paying for them. Pay special attention to the method of servicing and charging. Decide if in your case the best option would be a fixed fee, a subscription, or payment for a completed project.
It is a good idea to consider regular cooperation. Contrary to what one might expect, a regular service is cheaper than occasional, project-based cooperation. In the case of regular cooperation, an agency may devote more time to the implementation of a suitable strategy and realising a customer’s aims, and employees have time to get to know a company’s value. On-going cooperation gleans better results, lowers costs of activities, and consequently, is of greater benefit to both sides.
What should you pay attention to during the quotation stage? A request for a fixed subscription fee without any details regarding services could be suspicious. You must remember that an agency incurs some costs during the implementation of a project, albeit they may be estimated, but it is not possible to know what the exact cost is without the preparation of a more detailed offer.
Also decide if you are able to check the efficiency of such activities and set your goals together with the agency (for example a number of articles to be written, frequency of media publications, a number of people invited for an event, a number of sales leads etc.).
On top of this, you need a preferred method of communication to check if the agency is available and are able to carry out the tasks given. Another important aspect is the frequency of communication.
You should always feel that you are respected as a client; your campaign is dynamic, creative and – first and foremost – effective. Additionally, you must be sure that the agency represents you in the media – where you are seen by current and potential customers – in a pertinent way.
If you are looking for an agency in Poland that will help you to build a brand, contact us and let us present our possibilities.