Determining which marketing or PR agency is the best fit for your organization can feel overwhelming, especially when you are already spread thin. Whether you are part of an in-house marketing team, you’re a one-person show, or you’re a sales or business dev professional tasked with marketing functions, there will come a time when you need to hire a marketing or PR agency to support you. You’re sure to have already received many recommendations from friends and colleagues, and there are likely many agencies vying for an opportunity to pitch you, but before you dive in there are a few key questions you should ask yourself. Consider these 4 questions when choosing a marketing or PR agency.
What Type of Work do You Need?
One of the advantages of working with a larger marketing agency is often the capability to offer a wide variety of marketing services. You may find that your in-house team is very good in several areas but there is a skill gap that needs to be filled, or you simply need more manpower. Working with a boutique agency could be an ideal option as they often specialize in a core set of disciplines. You’ll also want to consider the industry experience of your potential agency. Are they well-versed in your market? Do they know who your competitors are? Have they worked with your core media? Are they regulars at your industry’s trade shows? At Open House PR, we don’t consider ourselves dabblers. We are highly specialized and experienced. We’ve worked in the industries we serve for decades, and frankly we’re good at what we do. Because of this we know what it takes to not only engage your audience, but inspire them to take action and tell all their friends too. The benefit to you is that our learning curve is very short, and we come ready to hit the ground running.
How Will Your Brand be Represented?
Will your potential agency act or speak as your brand as they execute projects? If you plan to have your agency lead public relations, online reputation or review management, or social media, your agency partner will need to become an expert on your brand. Not only does this preserve the integrity of your brand identity, it helps to streamline workflow process maintain budgets by cutting back on the time needed for you to weigh in on brand voice, product or service offerings, or policies. It’s always best to have a process in place that provides you with final approval of outgoing messages, but a truly integrated agency should know as much about your business as they do their own. An on-boarding phase is an ideal kick-off step to your agency becoming your brand expert. You’ll want to share details on your brand identify such as your style guide and communication policies. Additionally, your agency may work with you to craft pre-approved messages and responses that can be used through social media, review monitoring, and media pitching.
How Will the Agency Integrate with Your Work Style?
How does your team like to work? Are you a hands-on bunch who enjoys a lot of brainstorming? Are there multiple stakeholders who will need to approve deliverables – and may require several rounds of revisions? Do you have regular meetings where MarCom metrics should be communicated, or a specified reporting format? These areas should be integrated into how your agency partner works with you. We’ve worked with clients who have invited us to speak during company-wide meetings. We’ve accompanied clients during sales presentations to communicate marketing sell-through. And, we’ve had clients who trust us to take the reins and prefer their involvement to be kept at a minimum. Be sure your marketing or PR agency is a good fit with your company culture and work ethic. Missing this alignment may result in added charges for work not originally scoped, and a great deal of frustration from both parties.
Do You Like Each Other?
Many areas of building a working relationship can evolve overtime, but personality often does not change. Choose an agency powered by people who you like! We are firm believers that we each can manifest enough positivity every day to keep us motivated, energized, and innovative. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find the competition is stiff when it comes to marketing and PR agencies. You should absolutely have a partner who you enjoy working with, who is excited about your brand, and who truly strives to drive your business further. And hopefully someone who can make your [marketing] life a little easier! Get to know your potential agency before reaching for the contract. Request references and sift through your network to find out if you have any connections who may be able to provide insight. Invite multiple team members in to meet your potential agency and provide feedback. Find an opportunity to speak in person, and in a comfortable setting, and don’t be afraid to request more than one meeting before making a commitment. The process for finding your ideal marketing or PR agency partner should feel like a first date – an opportunity to get to know each other – not like buying a used car.
Want to find out if we’re a good fit for you? Leave us a note. We would love to speak with you!