Hiring a PR agency is an important decision, as you need to find one which will generate great coverage, whilst offering you reasoned advice if you find yourself in a sticky situation. Here’s our advice on finding the best PR agency for the job.
Before you start approaching agencies (whether you’re looking to hire one on a retained or project basis), do your research, then contact three to five agencies which have proven track records of working with clients in your industry. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to PR, and there’s nothing worse than receiving irrelevant pitches from 20 loose-fitting agencies.
If possible, have an initial meeting to see if you get along with the shortlisted agencies, before asking them to put a pitch together. You’ll soon get a feel for their media contacts and the sort of work that they’ll be able to help you with, and whether there’s a natural chemistry between the two parties.
Be realistic with the time that you give them to provide a pitch. Three weeks is the optimum time, as it allows an agency to conduct thorough research about your brand and its potential opportunities. Two is manageable but not ideal, while one is unrealistic.
Also try to provide them with the following information, as this will allow the agencies to give a greater idea of what kind of service they will be able to provide for you:
Even if it’s just an indication, an idea of the budget will help your prospective PR agency to gauge the level of activity required, allowing them to pitch ideas and a scope of work that’s realistic and achievable on that budget. A £5k budget will yield very different results from a £50k budget.
Be clear with what you want to achieve from the campaign, and know your audience. If an agency has to work backwards to find out both your organisational and marketing objectives, there’s significantly more room for error, and you’re less likely to get the pitch you’re expecting.
Make it clear who the agency’s point of contact is from the offset, and who they should expect to receive feedback from. Your agency should be willing to take on feedback from different areas of the business, but if possible, it should be delivered through one or two main contacts. A ten-point sign-off process is neither productive nor healthy.
Give an indication of a start and end date for the campaign, factoring in time for initial research and reporting. The agency will soon be able to give you an idea if this is realistic, and allocate its resources accordingly.
Tell the shortlisted agencies what you want to achieve from the campaign or body of work, ideally ordered by what is most important to you. Whether it’s a crisis communications plan, or help planning an event, it should be clearly outlined in the brief. That way, the shortlisted agencies can deliver a pitch which is relevant and useful to what you want to achieve.
Discuss how you want the campaign’s success to be measured, whether it’s increased traffic to your website, attendees at an event, or coverage in a particular publication. This will not only help the agency when it comes to setting priorities and reporting, but will make sure you’re both on the same page.
We hope that the above has given you an idea of the level of detail that an agency requires when being asked to pitch for work.
If you’d like to find out more about Barefoot’s PR services, contact Jim Michell on firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01208 895089.