Are you entering the Polish market with your brand? It’s better not to get caught up in the communication “mine” at the start – Polish consumers rarely forgive brands for PR blunders. Or maybe you already sell your products or services in Poland, but need help in spreading the word about your brand among influencers and journalists? In each of these cases, your internal PR department may not be enough. You will need the help of an external Polish PR agency. How to choose the best one? We suggest!
Table of contents:
- Do you really need a Polish PR agency?
- Selecting an agency for a tender
- Scope of PR agency services
- Agency portfolio and case studies
- Agency size and number of people working on the account
- How many agencies should be invited to tender?
- Preparing a brief
- Agency evaluation and decision making
- How are Polish PR agencies accounted for?
Do you really need a Polish PR agency?
To start with, ask yourself whether your brand needs the support of an external agency from Poland at all. The help of a PR agency on the Polish market will be necessary if:
- You are just entering the Polish market with your product or service and know neither your potential Polish customers nor the media market.
- Your communications or marketing department does not include any experts with experience in the Polish market.
- The company does not have a separate branch in Poland and the PR department is overloaded and needs external support.
- The organisation is expecting an image crisis or is already experiencing one.
Selecting an agency for a tender
Where to start looking for a Polish PR agency? Today, the best source to start with is, of course, the Internet. And in particular:
- Google search engine and PR agency company websites and social media, especially LinkedIn,
- industry competitions: international as well as local ones,
- industry organisations in Poland: the Association of Public Relations Agencies, the Association of Public Relations Companies, the Polish Public Relations Association,
- industry media,
- interesting campaigns (if a campaign draws your attention, you will easily find information on the Internet about the agency responsible for it).
Let’s assume that you already have a list of a dozen or so Polish PR agencies. What should you pay attention to when choosing the ones to invite to the tender?
Scope of services of the Polish PR agency
The most important information: not every Polish PR agency serves foreign clients. The vast majority of agencies (especially small ones) focus exclusively on Polish clients. Those that serve global clients usually provide such information on their website.
When analysing the offer of a given Polish PR agency, check the scope of its services. Does it specialise in B2B or B2C activities? Does it operate mainly on the Internet or in traditional media? Does it specialise in creative dispatches, social media or cooperation with influencers? Does it boast of excellent crisis communication? Or maybe it specialises in introducing foreign brands into the Polish market? Knowing the exact scope of your PR activities, it will be easier to select those organisations that are most likely to be able to help you achieve your goals. If you are planning large-scale PR activities in Poland, it is worth choosing a 360 agency.
Agency portfolio and case studies
When browsing the portfolio of a Polish PR agency, pay attention to several important elements:
- Origin of clients – whether they are largely foreign (a huge plus) or mainly local.
- Client industries – on the one hand, an agency’s extensive portfolio in the industry you’re in is a plus (it’s a sign that the agency has expertise), but on the other hand – it can come with reduced novelty.
- Size of clients – it’s best to choose agencies that have experience working with companies the size of yours.
- Average length of cooperation – check whether the agency works with one client for a long time or only on short, time-limited PR campaigns.
- Media types – pay attention to the agency’s competence in working with the types of media you will be interested in.
- Creativity and innovation – the more diverse the experience, the more innovative the agency. Remember that only those activities of which the agency is most proud are included in the portfolio or studies. The portfolio should therefore be impressive.
- Results – if a PR agency produces measurable results for its clients, it shouldn’t forget to mention them in the portfolio or case studies. The more impressive the results presented numerically, the more likely it is that the agency will bring similar results to your company.
When choosing a Polish PR agency, it is a good idea to carefully review its website and social media. What to look for there? Obviously – satisfied clients. Both opinions and testimonials that the agency boasts about on its website (look to see who issues them and what brands they represent), as well as company logos they post there, will be important. It’s worth looking at reviews on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. However, in order not to waste time and resources, it is better to do such monitoring of only a few from the final shortlist.
Size of agency and number of people working on the project
Does the size of a Polish PR agency matter? Of course it does. The larger agencies (you’ll recognise them by the fact that they’re probably quite famous) usually have more experience in dealing with big brands. There is also a growing chance that they have a better understanding of the construction of processes and procedures that set the tone for the functioning of large corporations. A large agency also means a larger number of specialists, but on the other hand – their dispersion is also greater. Sometimes clients served by the largest agencies feel less ‘taken care of’ than in the case of smaller agencies, where every client is worth its weight in gold. From the client’s perspective, the most important thing is how many people will be working on the project.
How many agencies to invite to tender?
Let’s assume that you have already selected a list of Polish PR agencies that meet your requirements. It’s time for a tender. But how many agencies should you invite? Our experience in working with clients tells us that it works best to send the brief to no more than 5 agencies.
Preparation of briefs for Polish PR agencies
In Poland, two types of briefs are commonly used:
RFP, or Request for Proposal
The best solution when the company does not know yet what it needs, does not know anything about the Polish market and is not able to define the scope of work for the agency. It is enough if such a brief includes such details as:
- information about the brand,
- information about previous communication (if any),
- business objective,
- the problem the company faces on the Polish market,
- expected results of PR activities.
RFQ, or Request for Quotation
This briefing model is useful only if the company has already developed a strategy for communication activities in Poland. Perhaps it even knows which specific tools it wants to use and is looking for an agency that will take up the challenge. Such a brief must be much more detailed and include not only general business objectives, problems, challenges or expected results, but also, e.g:
- a precisely defined scope of work for the PR agency,
- market context,
- demographics, psychographics and consumer behaviour of clients,
- details of current communication,
- customer attitudes to the brand,
- the precise effects the brand wants to achieve,
- the budget envisaged for the PR activity or campaign.
In both models, the brief should also include a clear timeline that informs the various stages of the tender, along with dates and response times.
Agency evaluation and decision-making
The tender, meetings with agencies (in this case online meetings) and evaluating their presentations is the most difficult, but also the most important stage of selecting a Polish PR agency. You will probably notice that in many aspects the agencies’ presentations will be similar. Sometimes the success is determined by the first impression or simply by catching a good contact with the agency’s representatives. Of course, first impressions or “being on the same wavelength” are important, but it’s better not to base your final decision on them. Before the meetings start, it’s a good idea to prepare a rating sheet with precisely defined criteria against which you will assess the proposals of each Polish PR agency.
Here is what, from our point of view, should be included in such a sheet:
- understanding the brief,
- strategic approach (precise definition of expected results of proposed activities, ability to present specific KPIs)
- experience of the team and knowledge of the specifics of your industry,
- meeting your budget,
- creativity of the proposals and their innovativeness,
- feasibility of proposed implementations,
- timelines for action,
- The coherence of the proposals and their adaptation to your sector and your company’s specificities,
- clearly explain the success of their proposals.
How are Polish PR agencies accounted for?
Finally, it is impossible not to mention the most important thing – billing. In Poland, there are two accepted methods of settling accounts with public relations agencies. These are subscription fees, i.e. a fixed monthly remuneration and a single contract for a given period, e.g. a campaign lasting several months. Both do not take into account the effects of the agency’s activities. There is also a success fee model, i.e. paying such an amount of money that the agency generates results. However, this solution is relatively uncommon in Poland, often unprofitable and difficult to measure for both parties.
If you are looking for an experienced Polish PR agency, which has been helping foreign brands enter the Polish market for many years, contact us. Our experts will be happy to talk about your expectations, goals and ideas.