So you’ve decided that you need public relations, but how do you get started? Below we’ve created a short list of how to choose the right PR agency for your brand. Best of luck!
1. IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUR TEAM
If you are going to read one thing in this article, this is by far the most important tip. Many companies fall for the names and prestige of large agencies without realizing the most important thing is the people on your team. Large agencies will send their “All Star” team to win your account, especially for larger budgets, but you may find out after you give them your business that these people are nowhere to be found. Many will simply assign an intern or two and an account executive. Don’t be afraid to ask who will actually be your day-to-day contact and actually staffing your account. Don’t fall for the bait-and-switch that companies utilize to win your account, make sure the expert that is selling to you is the same one that is servicing your account.
2. MATCH THE AGENCY TO YOUR NEEDS
There are many specialty PR agencies out there. For example, my agency, ComboApp, exclusively represents mobile apps. If you do construction, you’ve likely come to the wrong place. Find out what your choice agency does best. After years of working with multiple PR companies, I’ve found that agencies will claim that they are an expert in your business category and if they win your business, they will scramble to hire someone that backs their expert claims. This is not what you want. If you’ve come to the right agency with the right experience, they will already have the media contacts and tested strategies that have worked for similar clients. Not only will this benefit your results, it will also allow your new PR team to efficiently utilize your budget by utilizing their existing network.
3. IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT YOUR BUDGET
If you are shopping around at a lot of agencies and receive one response that seems too good to be true. It is. At the end of the day any good agency will tell you exactly what you will receive depending on your budget. This is generally depending on the number of hours estimated to service your account. Going back to finding the right agency, when I’m setting budgets for app clients I’m able to offer a lot of service for very little cost because my team already has all the right established contacts. If the agency you use is starting from scratch with your account in an industry that they are not familiar with, expect less results for the same amount of money.
4. REMEMBER YOUR REPUTATION DOES NOT SLEEP
We are constantly approached with clients that have a budget to launch a campaign, but not one for sustainable growth. Beyond launching a product or service, you need to set a budget to keep your brand relevant. There are always journalists that may include your brand in a round-up article or even for a standalone beyond launch day. You want a team to keep pushing your brand beyond launch. Consider either dividing your budget for an ongoing campaign beyond launch day or setting up a budget to be on retainer. Most agencies are able to come up with creative ways to keep your brand in the news whether that involves reputation, thought leadership, milestone updates and the like.
5. A GOOD AGENCY SAYS NO
Working for many different sized PR agencies, one thing I’ve noticed is that when there is a check dangling in front of an executive’s face, some will never say no. You want an agency to give you constructive criticism to ensure that you get the best results. When working with different apps, we are not afraid to tell an app creator that their product is not ready. Remember that our success is judged by your success and look at your agency as a business partner and not just someone that is pushing your product or service. I like to think of every one of my clients as if I am in their marketing department (and sometimes we are their marketing department). We want to be successful, but will not sacrifice transparency and honesty to make a buck, we’ll always be willing to work with the team to put out the best product and service possible.
I could go on-and-on, but these are the top-line tips for choosing an agency. Feel free to reach out with any questions. I can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy agency hunting!
Joseph W. Doran,
PR Manager at ComboApp