Four things to Look for in a PR Agency: Confessions from our CEO

Today, we received a referral from a product photographer we work with a lot, and we were so touched by the gesture and the vote of confidence! We reviewed their website and saw that they have a product that fits loosely into our wheelhouse, but we know an agency that absolutely KILLS it for this type of product, so we offered to chat with them and referred them to that agency. I think we most certainly could have secured this brand as a client had we wished to do so, but we honestly would not have been the BEST fit for this product. That made me realize how difficult it must be for a brand to know what to look for in a PR and social media agency. So, I thought I would help shed some light. Here are some things to look for when trying to find a PR agency:

  • Does the agency cover your brand's product or service category? Sometimes their website doesn't reflect all of the work they cover, but you can ask for samples and examples of clients in your wheelhouse they've worked with. 

  • Does the agency offer the services you really need? Some agencies focus on one type of media such as print or online, which is great for brands that are only seeking that type of coverage. However, it is important to make sure the agency can provide the type of editorial coverage you are seeking. Do you need print, online, television, or blogger placement? Or, do you need all of these types of coverage? Make sure the agency you are working with can handle the type of coverage you are seeking. Our agency has a narrow focus in the genre of products and services we represent, but within that genre we can provide our clients with outreach across any media platform. In fact, our blogger and social media division has become one of our strongest core competencies.

  • Does the agency offer pricing within your budget? A pet peeve of mine is that agencies never like to provide upfront pricing. That is why we developed a menu of packages with set pricing that we can send to prospective clients to see if our agency is the right fit for their budget. Usually, a prospective client needs a proposal tailored to suit their specific needs, but providing upfront pricing gives brands a frame of reference and an idea of whether our agency could be the right fit for their budget or not. It saves everyone time and the prospective client a bit of aggravation associated with having to get some concrete numbers early on. Push for pricing from a prospective agency because there is a wide range of pricing structures for PR and you need to find the right fit for your budget.

  • Does the agency have fresh ideas for you on ways to promote your brand? If an agency isn't giving you ideas on ways to improve your brand presence on that initial call, then they are probably not the right fit for you. I know when I am excited about working with a brand, I can barely contain myself and the ideas are just gushing out of me. When I am not excited, the ideas just don't flow. I also learned early on that we had more ideas for clients that fall within our wheelhouse of fashion/lifestyle than we did for brands that fell outside. Our agency just isn't going to have as many fresh and effective ideas for a restaurant that a culinary or hospitality PR firm would. So, if the ideas aren't flowing in that initial call, it is a sign to look elsewhere.

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