Have you ever realized how you select a PR agency is causing a lot of damage to the reputation of your company?
It is making you lose a lot of time and money that you could have invested in building a favourable narrative for your company.
Let me explain.
You had always thought the success of your PR program solely depends on which agency you hired.
The fact is it is the process you follow to choose the agency that makes or breaks your reputation.
The process that many brands follow is call for pitches, keep the budget a mystery, and hire the agency that promises the highest number of media impressions at the lowest cost.
This is an inefficient process which leads to the selection of a sub-optimal agency that delivers sub-optimal results.
There is an efficient alternative that generates optimal results for your company.
It consists of transparency.
It goes like this:
Define PR objectives and your expectations from the PR agency
Clear objectives and expectations set the ball rolling.
It gives the prospective agency a clear picture of what you have in mind.
(If you are somebody who doesn’t know what can be expected in PR, head over to our FAQ page to know everything about it.)
Define a budget
The PR industry is big, with agencies ready to work for Rs. X to Rs. 100X or even higher.
It is impossible for anyone to explore so many agencies.
Clarity about the budget helps in reducing the number of participating agencies to a manageable number, as it would evoke interest from agencies who can work within the given budget.
This also gives the agencies a clear picture of what is achievable within the given budget. A clear budget equips them to submit a practical plan.
If mentioning a specific budget is not possible, give a range.
Publish the Request for Proposal
You should publish the RFP on your website and/or preferred social media channel to inform the target agencies of your requirements.
This is in addition to emailing the RFP to a handful of agencies that you have already identified.
Publishing it on the website and social media channels expands your reach and enables you to discover a PR partner you might not know exists.
Organize a Q&A call
The agencies have gone through your requirements and know your budget.
By now, they have a clear idea of what they need to do. Still, they may have some questions.
A Q&A call is their opportunity to get them answered before they submit their proposal.
Also, this is your opportunity to ascertain how much do they know about your business.
Usually, an agency that understands your business will ask deep questions.
Organize separate calls/meetings to talk about each agency’s proposal
You need to insist on the presence of the servicing team in these meetings.
Here, you need to look at the credentials of the servicing team deputed for your account, not the agency’s.
It is important to do so because it is the servicing team that will plan and execute the PR program.
Focus on ideas
Every agency claims to have enviable relationships with journalists. They may be right but relationships don’t convert into stories.
Most agencies also promise a big number of impressions per month to satiate clients’ hunger for coverage. But we know what matters more is the relevance of media. A good story in a relevant publication is worth 100 stories in irrelevant ones.
Ideas enable good stories in relevant publications. Focus on what ideas are being shared by the agencies.
Select the agency with the best ideas, irrespective of the budget
You have already set boundaries for the budget by publishing it clearly in the RFP.
The agencies that are vying for your work have committed to working within the given budget.
All you have to do now is to select the agency which has shared ideas that are aligned with your business objectives.
Even if this agency is charging the maximum fee, it won’t matter because it will still be within the range you had published.
These are all the steps you need to take to find your next PR partner. Anything else is just fluff.
Over to you!