Written by Lola’s Fruit Shrubs account team members Shelby Deffterios, Nicole Salcido, Taylor Lukkes and Jaclyn Robinson.
What size firm would be most beneficial for my company?
Larger firms are likely to have a reputation within the industry, so doing your research prior to contacting a firm can give your company a better understanding of what kind of firm you may be considering. A smaller firm is likely to give their clients more attention because they have less clients and have more time to invest into each one of them, so for start-up and smaller companies, a smaller firm may be the best option. Don’t be afraid to research the firm’s current clients and ask them about their opinions regarding the size of the firm and their satisfaction with the firm.
How will I be valued as a client?
This is an important question to ask before hiring a public relations firm to ensure that there will be sufficient staff on your account team who are not only versed in your industry, but have relevant experience. If account executives are handling too many clients already and are spread too thin, you may not be considered a priority. In order to establish that the agency has enough people to staff your team, make sure to ask for an estimation of the number of people who will be working on your account. In addition, ask about their relevant experience and level of expertise in the industry. Your value as a client can also be reflected in the responsiveness of the firm to your calls and requests through the review process; if you have been happy with the firm’s responsiveness, you may be in the right hands.
Who do you see as my company’s biggest competitor and how would you put us on top?
If the agency did their homework they would have already assessed the marketplace and the company’s biggest competitors. The best agency to hire is one that has a strategic plan in place with long-term and short-term goals that will place the company at an advantage relative to these competitors. Agencies typically dedicate a part of their work day to basic research on their clients and main competitors to see if there has been any mention of the companies in the media. This ensures that the agency is staying ahead of competitors and doing “best practice” research, which ultimately looks at what competitors are doing well. This allows your team to modify their strategy and keep your company in a competitive position.
Have you worked on campaigns in my industry?
Before hiring a public relations agency, it is important to ask to see results from past campaigns with other clients in your industry. If a public relations agency has a reputation for working well with other clients in your industry, chances are, they will be able to handle and control your account just as well. According to Bill Stoller, founder of PublicityInsider.com, you should also find out if the account executives who managed those accounts are still with the agency because you may want to ask to work with them.
How do your company’s values align with our own?
Before making any final decisions about hiring a public relations firm, you should consider the firm’s values. Ask the firm about how they uphold their values, how their values compliment your own and how they would describe their company culture. A crucial aspect of a healthy professional relationship is continuity between company cultures; your public relations team will be an extension of your company and there must be good chemistry and similar attitudes within the organizations to make this relationship successful.