Effective public relations management is a skill best given to professionals, but how do you know if your PR agency is doing the right thing by your business?
Whether you’re looking to hire a PR agency or are currently assessing your current contract there are a few things you need to consider when evaluating the effectiveness of your PR agency.
They understand newsworthiness
Your PR agency should understand the media and what makes your business newsworthy for a journalist, producer or editor. You might be excited about hiring a new sales manager but is that really worth a press release? If something isn’t newsworthy, a good PR agency won’t offer it to the media—they won’t even write the press release. Instead, they will suggest alternative ways to promote your business.
They find interesting angles
A good PR agency looks at the message you’re trying to convey and finds different, new and exciting ways of presenting it or placing it in relevant outlets you’ve never thought of before.
If you’re a hip business with cool products, interesting angles come on a platter. But the test of a truly great PR agency is securing coverage for a boring or very technical business. Can you think of a way to get a traditional board game in a major newspaper? Or a plumber on breakfast TV? We have.
They are honest and transparent
You always know where you stand with a good PR agency because they will tell you when something won’t work or isn’t working. They will not want to waste your time and budget or affect their good track record on a bad approach. More importantly, they can tell you why you might struggle to gain traction. An agency with integrity would rather turn down work than not get the best results.
A good PR agency is also transparent about their operations and who looks after your account. Have you heard the one about the agency who had interns and juniors doing most of the work while a senior staff member led meetings and issued invoices? Don’t let that happen to your business.
They have good media relationships
To offer value, a good PR agency should have a solid media contact book and good relationships with the media. After all, this is one of the main reasons you hire a PR agency. For any given news, the agency should know who to contact, what the contact is interested in and their preferred method of communication. Being able to build rapport without being intrusive is a key skill.
They have experience
Look for a proven track record for businesses similar to yours, whether alike in industry, size or type. If you want TV coverage, find a PR agency that has secured TV coverage for their clients in the past, or has team members who have experience doing so.
If they don’t have experience in the type of PR you’re after, they should be upfront about it rather than using your business to rack up billable hours on experiments. If I am asked to work on a type of client, use a PR tactic, or focus on an industry that I haven’t had experience with before, I let the client know. If I can do it well with confidence despite that, I will ask the client to allow me to go ahead. If not, I will recommend against it or bring in someone with experience to do it.
A good PR agency will have a plan. They will understand that it takes time to find the right angle and the right approach and set out what needs to happen before contacting the media. Timing is almost as important as your message and a PR agency with a comprehensive plan can focus on making things happen at opportune times.
Yes, there will obviously be occasions where opportunities come out of the blue, but the better organised your PR agency is, the better prepared you’ll be to take advantage of those.
They are consistent
Every month should be planned in advance so you have a steady drumbeat of measurable PR activity, whether the focus is securing coverage or working toward the next approach. Quieter months are usually foreseeable and a good PR agency will be able to compensate with more activity at other times while being consistent in their focus and dedication.
A good PR agency is not hard to find if you know what to look for. If you remember that you’re after someone who has your best interests at heart, is professional in their dealings and attains relevant results, you’ll be ready to hire.