Ask your PR Agency these 6 questions
Ask your PR agency how well they really know your industries
PR agencies generally claim to have lots of experience in your industry, but a superficial understanding is not expertise. Real experience is based on time served, insight, contacts, acknowledgement by industry peers. Building and selling stories into vertical media depends on all these. In the era of account based marketing where sales depend on insight, industry expertise is everything.
Ask them how well they really know marketing
Some agencies are PR only, some offer a range of services and some are full-service, but how well do they understand the sales journeys that your customers and prospects take? You are probably selling based on some insight into the challenges they face, so you need PR that demonstrates that you understand not simply the generic challenges facing your industries, but the challenges facing the individual companies and individual decision makers within them. Otherwise, you are just educating your competitors.
Ask them if they send out press releases
If you think this is the everyday business of a PR agency, think again. The media don’t like press releases, your customers don’t like press releases and the format hates the content, because it forces everything into a tired template that is now out of date. Naturally, there will always be a need for a written document, particularly when it is the basis on which your customers take part in PR, but press releases are not sales documents. Selling stories is about picking up the phone or going to see journalists and thrashing out the story together.
Ask them if they will always do what you tell them to do
The PR agency that agrees to push out press releases about everything you do will be responsible for the bad taste that PR may already have left in your mouth from past experience. And everyone has had at least one bad experience with PR. There are many reasons, but one of the most important is the way agencies get lazy about creating stories. They will often turn round to the client and say, we can’t help you because you’re boring. Not good enough. Dig deeper, the stories are there.
Ask them if they know the difference between KPIs and metrics
In the digital era, there is a lot that can be measured and reported on, and the primary measure is still media coverage. A good agency should be able to commit to guaranteed minimum levels of press coverage for each story, but they should also be able to demonstrate their wider marketing expertise as it relates to your sales funnel, by winning backlinks, share of voice against the competitors at a thought leadership level, generating opportunities to see in the media titles as read by your prospects, and driving digital amplification via social button shares.
Ask them if they know what newsjacking is
Newsjacking is a way for your agency to get media coverage for you on the back of industry news. Obvious really, but if you look at how most agencies play it out, they simply find ways for your spokespersons to agree with what is being said in the news. More noise that probably doesn’t get noticed. Do it by all means, but recognise the value of other approaches, for instance, going against the tide of opinion, or agreeing but talking about where things might lead. Doing this successfully brings me back to my first point, which is if you want an agency that’s really going to make a difference to your bottom line, you need one that understands the industries you sell to.
Want to know more of our PR tips and tricks to getting the most out of your PR activities? Talk to the agency that just had awards success with both of the UK’s PR industry bodies, the PRCA and CIPR. Give me a call on 01892 784 500 or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.