Whether you’re in the market for a “full service” agency or a public relations consultant, there are some steps you should take to ensure you’re working with an individual or company that truly understands your market, has a good relationship with the media and values quality writing.
- To start, talk to the editors, not the sales reps, to get a referral. Media sales reps are great at identifying agencies that work in the industry, but they are not being pitched PR material on a regular basis, so they do not have a good grasp on who actually knows what they are doing.
- Ask for writing samples and then read them — I mean really read the material. Does the release inform? Does an article provide value? And more importantly, does the content make you want to read all the way until the end?
- Don’t just trust placement numbers or return-on-investment (ROI) results. Placements and ROI don't equal quality.
- Seek out quality, this includes a few things:
- Does the PR professional have the respect of their peers (media and other communications professionals)?
- Do they know anything about your company/products/services? Your market or industry? Your customers? Can they write to your audience?
- Are they reading the content of the publications that they are trying to pitch?
- Do they use the publications’ editorial calendars to form pitch ideas and develop new content opportunities?
- Are they invested in doing the work or just interested in chasing your dollars?
- Do they hit your deadlines? The editors’ deadlines?
And, at the end of the day, you need to engage a PR agency or PR consultant that you feel comfortable representing your brand. If you wouldn’t hire the individual handling your PR efforts directly to work for your company, you certainly shouldn’t be okay with them representing your brand as an outside consultant.