23 Nov Five questions to ask a PR agency
If you’re thinking of hiring a PR agency, here are five key things to bear in mind.
Can they provide examples of previous written material, and coverage achieved?
It seems a glaringly obvious question, but you’d be surprised by the number of PR people who can’t write. It’s a pretty essential skill for someone who’s going to be issuing press releases and emailing journalists on your behalf.
Ask to see examples of press releases they’ve written for other clients, and some recent press cuttings. This will give you a flavour of the kind of coverage they’re generating and where.
What industries have they worked in?
Most importantly, you want to ascertain whether your PR rep has experience of working in your industry. Do they ‘get’ your business and have empathy for the challenges you face? If you see PR as a long term strategy (and you should, read my post on PR as the long game) then you want to work with someone who can understand the nuances of the opportunities, threats and competition. Their industry contacts become yours. It also means you won’t be paying for their time learning on the job.
Do they have the right media contacts for your business?
It’s not just their industry contacts that matter. If you’re a holiday park owner wanting to get coverage in the travel pages of the Sunday Times then you’ll want to employ a PR person or agency with the right media contacts to make this possible. Remember, you’re paying for their contacts as well as their experience, skills and time.
Who will be working with you day to day?
It’s a well-known phenomenon in the travel PR industry; you pay for a big agency with an impressive team, but end up having the most junior member of staff working on your account day to day. Everyone’s got to start somewhere, and yes the senior director may have an ‘overview’ of the strategy but the chances are they won’t know the nitty gritty.
How will they be reporting on results?
There are a few industry standards when it comes to reporting. The most commonly used is to look at coverage generated and the EAV or AVE (Equivalent Ad Value/ Ad Value Equivalency) and measure column inches. There are serious flaws in this method, the biggest being that editorial coverage carries greater authority and has arguably more impact, and therefore value, than an advert.
Another option is to report on the potential audience reached; whether that’s the circulation of the title, the unique monthly users of a blog or number of Twitter followers.
The important thing is to agree KPI or Key Performance Indicators upfront. Then review them monthly. That way, if something is going off track you can quickly identify this and either tweak or inject effort elsewhere.
Get in touch if you’d like to find out how our nimble, flexible, creative communications could work for you.