Let’s be honest, public relations is an industry that gets a lot of (pardon the pun) flack for shilling half-truths and over-promising but under-delivering. That’s PR at its worst. At its best, PR creates a channel for clear communication between a business and its key audiences that directly impacts sales or the bottom line – whether responding in times of crisis, announcing a new product, promoting an association and more.
A client should expect an agency to act proactively, in an organized and structured manner, setting goals and reporting metrics to prove results. So, what should you look for when you’re seeking an agency partner?
Pay attention to the manner in which an agency keeps itself on track. An organized agency is one that can provide you impeccable service. While good account management is important, it’s not prevalent at all public relations agencies. Determine how the agency keeps its initiatives on track and how it communicates internally as well as with clients. For example, Cookerly has an agency-wide to-do list, which not only keeps us accountable but keeps everyone apprised of our work should another person need to pitch in. At the end of the month, clients are apprised of KPI’s such as impressions, engagement, sentiment and value of opportunities, among other objective-supporting tasks performed, in an account summary.
Organization is important, but an agency partner should also be driven. Your PR agency should address issues before they become crises, secure relevant media opportunities, prepare spokespeople ahead of time and inventively weave current events or holidays into your creative tactics. They should provide a broad approach to maximize visibility and increase your bottom line. An agency team should always be in communication with the client, supporting business goals and initiatives; you shouldn’t have to whip out the latest GPS technology to locate them and secure results.
At the end of the day, you want to know that your PR efforts are producing ROI. Creative tactics, digital and social marketing and media outreach are only beneficial if they support your overall business objectives, raising awareness for a product or service, shaping public opinion or promoting thought-leadership. You should expect reporting from your agency that shows media placements, internal communications executed, marketing initiatives launched and more. Public relations and marketing can provide an excellent return on investment, and you should expect to see how that investment is spent.