Hiring the right PR & Digital Marketing agency will have a tremendous impact on the success or failure of your communications program. But with the increasing number of agencies, consultancies and solopreneurs out there today, the choices have gotten almost too plentiful.
So how do you narrow down the possibilities to find the firm that best suits your needs?
One of the biggest mistakes clients often make is not stopping to really think about what their needs are – what unique skill sets they need in an agency. So take a hard look at what you need. Do you need a content marketing strategy? To generate more sales leads? Think about your business goals, and take a strategic approach to identifying the agency that will be the best fit for your brand.
An agency’s capabilities should reflect its core competencies. Many firms specialize in specific industries and have a deeper knowledge base in those industries. Others prefer a more generalist approach to broaden their appeal to a wide variety of clientele. You may want first to seek out boutique firms that specialize in your industry, as that focused knowledge can provide opportunities and ideas that generalist firms may miss. Or, if you need a more global reach or multiple offices, a larger firm might be the better choice.
Ideally, you don’t want to be the agency’s largest client, or their smallest. Like Goldilocks, somewhere in the middle might be just right.
One of the most important questions you should ask during the initial fact-finding process is “How can you help me?” But more importantly, note what the agency candidates are asking you. Are they asking you questions about your business and listening to your needs? Or are they simply selling themselves?
Make note of what the agency’s own marketing looks like. Do they put their talents to use for their own purposes? Are the agency leaders providing insights on their own social channels and considered thought leaders in their own right?
When the culture is right, the ideas are better. And better ideas lead to success.
We all like to work with people who are fun and enjoyable to be around, so it is important that you know who your team will be. While the more senior members of an agency will likely be involved in pitching your business, it is critical that you understand precisely who your day-to-day contacts will be. Make sure they are in the pitch meeting, and that they play an active role in the process.
More often than not, a good relationship with your agency counterparts comes down to values. What does the agency stand for, and do their values align with your own? How do they work internally with each other? How close are their inter-agency relationships? Are they involved in a larger community?
How well an agency articulates its culture is essential in fulfilling expectations and smoothing snags that may come along. A healthy agency culture should result in innovative thinking, positive communication, accountability, a commitment to results, and a general sense of humanity.
Beyond the capabilities and culture of a PR and marketing agency is the need to understand how they manage the day-to-day work.
Do they use proven methodologies to manage resources and execution? Does their work ethic match your own? Is there absolute transparency in their process? Can you pick up the phone and find out exactly what the status of a project is? Are the deliverables consistent? Is it clear who at the agency is accountable for your success?
A quality agency should have a process for delivering on core competencies. Check their website, and ask them questions if their process isn’t clear.
None of the previous things matter if you don’t work with an agency that provides ongoing measurement. They can’t know what to change or where to pivot if they don’t know how your campaigns are performing.
You should have full insight into the performance of your marketing and publicity efforts that goes beyond vanity metrics. If your chosen firm can’t provide that, maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Do you have other tips for ensuring a successful relationship with your PR & Digital Marketing agency? We’d love to hear from you!