The ultimate checklist for hiring a PR agency

As a company grows and increases its user base, it begins to enter into discussions either offline or online. Oftentimes, as part of growth also, the company realizes a need to put itself out there and make direct public statements that serve to inform people of its existence and more primarily, to let the public know the successes and feats it has achieved so far. Whether you’re a young company or an old one, shaping the narrative about your brand in the public eye is a crucial function that cannot be left in the hands of inexperienced people.

What is PR and why is it important to get a great agency? 

The whole concept of controlling or shaping the narrative of your brand perception or how people feel about your brand is part of the business of a PR agency. What is PR? The Public Relations Society of America defines PR as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” Between managing your clients and internal meetings and building relationships with vendors and marketing activities, it can get hard to make time for brand awareness and media management. This is where a PR agency can help. 

Hiring a PR agency however is a task that must be done carefully. The job of PR is to manage your company’s relationship with the public, and for most organizations, this relationship with the public and the perception that people have of the business mostly determines how much people are willing to do business with the company. Because of its sensitive nature, therefore, this relationship with the public needs to be very well managed. 

Here are some tips to note when shopping for a PR agency: 

What are your goals?

The first thing to do after you have decided to hire a PR agency is to start thinking about your company’s goals. What do you want to achieve by working with a PR agency? How do you think a PR agency can help your company? These questions will lead you to establish an objective for working with a PR firm which you will need to communicate to them and align on.

What is your budget? 

Next, your company has to decide what its budget is for the engagement. You might not have this information right away. Take a look at what the general or average engagement cost for a PR agency is, within your area. You might need to speak with other company reps or visit job/agency websites that give an insight into what a PR agency might charge. Armed with this information, you should be able to set a specific budget or a budget range before meeting with PR agencies. 

Research research research

Check out PR agencies around you. You can do a simple search for the term “PR agency” or use your network to find out which ones are in your city and even which ones are within the budget you have set. Then screen this list down to a few agencies. Research your top agencies and find out whose work and clientele you think are a good match. After doing this, you will be able to create a shortlist to contact. 

Engaging and Onboarding

By setting up meetings with representatives from the agencies you have contacted, and discussing the engagement in detail (including price, expertise level, previous clients and prior successes),  you will be able to choose the PR agency that most suits your needs. 

The final step is to onboard your chosen agency. Find out who your primary contact will be and agree on how regularly you will have meetings to touch base, how you will track results etc. 

It is important to work with an experienced PR agency that has shown a capacity for quick and wide distribution of communications. One of such agencies is Pulse. Pulse owns native social and web platforms (as well as extensive 3rd party and influencer networks) across Africa that ensure that communications can be amplified quickly and achieve a much higher reach than a regular PR agency. We are one of the most sought after PR agencies in Africa because of our network, expertise and experience. 

Last words

Hiring a PR agency is critical for any brand as it has the potential to catalyse growth and build brand affinity, but also to destroy the public reputation and cause substantial harm to revenue and the company’s bottom line. It is important to go through the discussed steps carefully and ask the right questions before engaging a PR agency.