How to choose a PR agency

It’s an important decision. Choosing the wrong PR agency can at the very least waste your time and money, and at worst damage your reputation. We hope this list will help you make the right choice.

Do they understand your business sector?

Ideally the agency will have experience in your sector, or at least in a comparable one. Do they have plenty of relevant media contacts? At least the agency should be able to demonstrate how they will ‘come up to speed’ quickly, researching the key industry issues.

Are they the ‘right’ size for your business?

Are they large enough to have the skills and tools eg media databases to do the job professionally? But small enough to be interested in your business? Clients of large agencies sometimes find they are too small to command much attention.

Can you afford them?

The agency should be able to demonstrate value for money, and adapt their proposal to suit your budget. Don’t forget that higher fees may not indicate higher quality – they often reflect high overheads, lots of admin staff etc.

Are they working with your competitors?

This can be a problem in a small or highly specialised sector. You need to know that your PR agency is 100% on your side, with no fear of divided loyalties.

Is the chemistry right?

Do you understand what they are talking about, or do they use PR-speak to sound impressive? Are they ‘your sort of people’? The only way to judge this is to meet them face to face. The way to get the best out of any marketing agency is to treat them as part of your marketing team, and that means you need to trust them. We recall the pitch for an ad agency whose three-man team turned up in identical red Ferraris!

Find out who will work on your account

Many clients have been impressed at the pitch stage, only to find themselves working with distinctly less impressive people when the real work starts. Insist on meeting the people who will run your account.

Can they provide testimonials from satisfied customers?

A simple test that any respectable agency should pass.