Seeking Public Relations Support?

Public relations support is available from firms of all sizes, from solo practitioners to multi-national agencies with hundreds of employees. What is the “best” size for your company? It depends on your needs. Larger agencies can provide the resources needed to support large programs with many elements and can draw upon expertise from throughout the firm. Smaller practices often offer more individualized service, are often staffed by senior professionals and generally have lower rates.

When interviewing practitioners, we recommend starting your discussion with the following criteria.

PRSA Membership: When you work with PRSA members you know they have committed to abide by PRSA’s Code of Ethics.

Experience: It’s best to choose an agency that has experience in your industry and the type of tactics that you wish to utilize. Ask to see the types of programs and projects that were conducted on behalf of the agency’s other clients and carefully assess the experience of the people who will work on your team. An agency that already has strong relationships with key editors, analysts, regulators and opinion leaders in your industry will have an easier time getting your message in front of them.

Results: Find out how successful the agency has been in terms of meeting their clients’ objectives, keeping in mind that each client must help in setting those goals.

Business Practices: Be sure to ask the agency about their reporting and billing procedures. Some agencies bill by retainer, others by the hour or by the project. We recommend asking for status reports or details with invoices.

Client Contacts: Ask the agency who will work on your business. This is not always who you will meet at your initial meeting and it is important that you feel comfortable with your team members. This is the person or team who will represent your company with editors and other key constituencies so you want to feel comfortable with their professional style.

A Proposal: You can ask the agencies that you are considering to submit a proposal that will provide a general overview of the work they would provide on your behalf. Be sure to give each agency a budget to work within and do not expect detailed recommendations until you have made a final selection. Keep in mind that the ideas set forth by an agency belong to them – until you hire them!

Used with permission from the PRSA Boston chapter