When looking for a marketing agency or PR firm to outsource work to, one is often faced with a number of options that look similar on the surface. The marketing and PR firms you are considering may offer the same suite of services and/or work/ specialize in the same industries/vertical markets. With countless options to choose from, it can be challenging to know what criteria to use to determine which firm stands out in the criteria. Start by looking at these key areas.
What do the firm’s client relationships look like?
While each and every client-agency relationship is unique, there are some common threads to look for when screening a marketing and PR firm. For example, what do the agency’s client relationships look like? Are they short-term and transactional or ongoing? How does the firm interact with their client? Think meetings, video conferencing, calls, quarterly strategy sessions, etc. Are the relationships partnerships or are they more akin to a client-vendor model?
Evaluating these criteria will help in discovering what sets the marketing and PR firms you are considering apart from one another as well as what type of relationship you may be able to build with your prospective partner.
What is the agency’s culture?
When it comes to structure, no two marketing agencies look alike. Some may structure their teams by client industry while others structure them by service provided. Think real estate PR team vs. social media marketing team. While agencies have become more integrated with the rise of social media and inbound marketing (which closely aligns marketing and sales functions), some agency cultures are more collaborative than others. Your research may unveil that some firms focus on building a culture of philanthropy, where staff often engage in days of giving and community service projects, while others focus on fostering a culture of learning where team members have ambitious professional development goals to meet.
While many agencies have a few defining attributes that make up their culture, others have one defining feature. By understanding agency culture, you gain another sneak peek at what type of relationship you could build with your new marketing partner and the types of individuals who may be servicing your account.
What is the marketing and/or PR firm’s track record?
Success metrics. Measurement. Analytics. As marketing has become increasingly digital, it has also become increasingly measurable. In many instances, marketing campaigns can be structured to directly align with business goals and the role these tactics play in achieving these goals can be measured precisely.
When screening a marketing and PR firm, look carefully at the firm’s case studies. What were they tasked to achieve by the client and how did the campaign perform against the goals that were set? If you’re looking at a graphic design agency, consider how the end product reflects the aesthetic the firm set out to deliver.
Does the firm practice what they preach?
If you’re evaluating PR agencies and you find out during a preliminary phone call that they themselves invest all of their own marketing dollars in advertising, it’s time to ask some hard-hitting questions. While every industry is unique, as are the marketing strategies and tactics that prove most effective for them, you want to partner with an agency that believes in what they are recommending. It’s better to hear a firm say “We tried sponsored content on LinkedIn for ourselves but found we got better results from our Google AdWords campaign, whereas most of our healthcare technology clients see greater returns on LinkedIn” than it is to hear them say “We don’t do PR for ourselves,” for example.
Finding the right marketing and PR firm to entrust with your brand can be a challenge. You want to find a partner with whom you can build a trusting and collaborative partnership, and whom is strong strategically, creatively and during execution.
Unsure what questions to ask when hiring a marketing and PR firm? Here are 10 questions to help get you started.