Searching for a vendor or partner to provide services to your company is never an easy choice. There are many considerations when looking at who to bring on board to work closely with you and your team to achieve short and long term objectives. Generally, there are two types of engagements you will enter into with a firm.
The first is a short-term campaign, often 3-6 months in duration to achieve a specific program outcome such as a new-product launch, speakers tour, or other initiative. Because of the timelines, these are often tactic-based processes. The other type of engagement is more strategic, and often based on annual or multi-year engagements. During such programs, your PR firm might also take on other work for you to include advertising, digital marketing, social media, content marketing, demand marketing, influencer marketing, and more. The scope really depends on the firm and their abilities.
Regardless of which engagement you enter into, there 6 things you should always look for when selecting a firm for you business:
1. Alignment with your Company’s Values – You know what your business is about and what you stand for. If the firm you are interviewing isn’t aligned with the same core values, you shouldn’t work with them. You wouldn’t bring an employee into your company that didn’t fit the culture – it would absolutely be a train wreck if the firm representing your brand isn’t aligned. It does not matter how good they are. Walk away.
2. Enthusiasm for Your Project – This is another non-negotiable. From the moment you first speak with someone about your project, they should be excited not about making a sale, they should be excited about what you are doing and what you want to accomplish. Good PR is about telling a story and sharing the news of the client. If the agency can’t be enthusiastic about your project, they will not get great results for you.
3. Trust – You need to be able to trust them to do their work. This also means you need to be ready to trust your firm with information to help them be successful. Before you go outside and hire a vendor for PR, stop and ask yourself, am I ready to share information about my company that will help me grow with someone outside the firm? Can I trust an outside organization with confidential information? You are always able to ask them to sign a confidentiality agreement about your business, and if they won’t – then they aren’t the right firm for you.
4. Presence – A PR firm should be highly visible too. Do they have a website? What about social media? Now, they may or may not be actively pursuing PR for themselves, they should at least be pushing out content about their clients and other activities all the time. If the firm you are considering isn’t able to demonstrate they understand how to use social media to promote clients, isn’t visible at events, and doesn’t have an active website … you probably should keep looking.
5. Your Gut – at the end of the day, always listen to what your gut says. PR is a personal relationship and you will need to interact with them often. If your gut says, “I don’t want to talk with this person every other week,” or, “I’d be disappointed if XXXX was representing me in public,” it doesn’t matter how good their reputation and references are. They aren’t the right firm for you. Chemistry and relationship is a major part of the PR game, you need to really like the firm you hire. Always go with your gut.