4 Things to Look for in a PR Agency
By Patricia Lundy
Should a PR agency be an integral part of your Digital Marketing strategy? This blog takes a look at four factors to evaluate.
Effective PR efforts can help to make the bottom line, especially for start-ups and small to medium-sized businesses. For enterprises, neglecting PR can be catastrophic, especially in the digital era, where customers can air their complaints on a multitude of social media outlets. Because PR can be monolithic in its requirements, however, many marketers look to a PR firm or agency to help them manage their company’s reputation and promote their company’s story.
The problem is, if you don’t evaluate a PR agency for the right things, you might be wasting your money and even damaging your strategic relationships, which ultimately won’t be good for your brand. Whether you already work with a PR agency or are looking to work with one, here are four things you should keep in mind.
#1: Does Your PR Agency Create Compelling Content?
Part of the reason marketers look to work with a PR agency is because they don’t have the time to create content for media outreach. Press releases and various press content are one of main responsibilities a PR agency usually takes care of when they’re brought on board. However, while press releases can have an incredible reach, they are expensive and should be used sparingly and strategically. For this reason, they need to be compelling.
Your PR agency should be creating stellar press content for your company; most likely, you’re paying them a lot of money to do so. Content should be sophisticated, should communicate your brand’s story in the language your brand and industry use, and should be free of grammatical errors.
This should seem like a given, but unfortunately, it’s not. If someone on your team writes a better press release than your agency, you should look to put your money elsewhere.
#2: Do They Incorporate Digital Initiatives?
The old way of PR used to be to send out a press release, get links back to your site, and see your activity soar. That’s not the way it works anymore.
Firstly, press releases aren’t always great for SEO, even though they’re great for PR. Secondly, it takes a lot more than a piece of (virtual) paper in this day and age to get people to respond.
Your PR agency should realize that while some old PR standards have stayed, others have faded. New digital initiatives, such as creating and leveraging video content, should be sought out by your agency and brought to your attention. If you’re trying to innovate and your agency is stuck in the newspaper era, it’s time to move on.
#3: Is Your PR Firm Nurturing Your External Relationships or Inhibiting Them?
Your PR contact should act as a liaison between you and external relationships. Your goal is to build relationships for your brand, relationships that will last and grow with your company no matter what PR agency you might be using. For this reason, you need to make sure your agency is effectively nurturing—and not damaging—those relationships. They need to be opening the door, not standing in the doorway.
Because your agency is an outside party, a best practice is to survey those relationships they may be managing for you. Ask them: Is your PR agency easy to work with? Are they effective at nurturing the relationship? Do they encourage or impede progress?
#4: Is Your PR Firm Generating Press for You?
This one expands upon #3. Because your agency is managing outside relationships, they should also have the right connections to leverage really valuable relationships, such as those with major technology and business publications. Your agency should be getting interviews for your executives and connecting you to journalists who are writing about the space you are in, as this helps to educate a much broader audience on your company.
A best practice is to ask for a bi-weekly dashboard of mentions and articles that your agency has helped you obtain. This will make it easy for you to visualize their value.
At the end of the day, employing the strategic advice and partnership of a PR agency should make your life easier as a marketer; they should be the ultimate experts on PR. If they create compelling content for your brand, embrace new digital initiatives to enhance the prowess of your PR efforts, are effectively managing your external relationships, and are getting your name out there, they’ve done their job, and you should continue to work with them.
But if they fall short, your efforts—and your money—might be best placed on an internal PR team.