Posted by David Oates 4 years, 2 months ago

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When it comes time for a company to hire a public relations agency, there are a lot of things to consider. An organization needs to determine if they have a budget and if it’s truly the right time to engage. While a company may think they’re ready to move forward, they might need to focus on getting their ducks in a row in other areas before proceeding. If your organization is in a position to more forward and the search has begun, here are four questions to ask before selecting an agency of record.

Do they have the experience?
It’s important to engage with an agency that has the knowledge and experience to help you fulfill your public relations goals. For instance, if your organization is looking to focus on media relations and secure national stories, be sure to ask the agency for examples of prominent hits they’ve landed. For example, at Stalwart Communications we use our Pinterest account to display our recent success along these and other lines as well as our company’s culture and interests. We also direct prospects to our case studies page on the website where they can view our capabilities in various marketing disciplines such as shortening our clients’ sales cycles and delivering qualified leads.

What tools do they use and have access to?
It’s always good to know which tools a public relations agency has at their disposal to help them perform their jobs. If you’re looking for an agency to help manage your social media platforms, ask what they use to manage conversations such as Hootsuite, TweetDeck or another solution. Also inquire about their use of any specific applications. For instance, ShortStack allows users to create Facebook applications, contests and custom forms. Be sure to also ask about media databases. While many public relations professionals already have established relationships with the media, there are instances when they need to uncover new contacts in other industries. At Stalwart Communications, we have a Cison account and that platform helps ensure we're reaching the proper media contacts rather than spending our time researching on the Internet.

Does it feel like a good fit?
While experience and staying within budget is crucial, it’s also important to make sure the agency is a good fit for you. After all, your company is going to be working and communicating with the agency you select on a regular basis. If you meet with an agency and something in your gut is telling you no, go with your instinct. If there are any red flags, it’s better to move on and look at other options than try and force something to work.

Do they practice what they preach?
If a company is looking to hire an agency to fulfill a specific goal, it’s important to ensure that agency practices what they preach. For example, with so many public relations agencies handing social media for clients these days, it would be important for that agency to demonstrate a thorough understanding and is present on the platform themselves. Do they post regularly? Just like if you’re looking to hire a website developer, you’d want their website and work to look professional. It would be a smart move to go with an agency that practices what they preach.

While there are other aspects to consider such as location and competitive advantage, considering these four questions will help ensure you make the right decision and team up with an agency that’s a good fit.

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