Ask the PR Pro: What should I expect from my PR firm?

If you’re thinking about hiring a PR firm, you may wonder what expectations you should have for their performance. In addition to delivering on the PR plan that the firm creates for you, there are other things that you should expect from your firm:

  1. Senior leadership. There’s a practice among PR agencies of sending in senior level professionals to pitch the business, then staffing the account with younger, less experienced practitioners. While there is room for less experienced staffers on the team, clients should expect to have significant involvement from senior professionals. Before hiring an agency, ask for information about team members, as well as how much time each team member will spend on the account.
  2. Accountability. Clients should expect their agency to be accountable for reaching the goals of the program. This should include regular input and briefing sessions that include both the PR team and the client, regular written activity reports and clip books, and a quarterly review of goals and results.
  3. Proactive ideas. One of the reasons companies hire outside agencies is for fresh PR ideas. Clients should expect their agency to follow industry news, trends and current events, and to develop innovative ideas to secure coverage.
  4. Challenge. A PR agency should constantly challenge their clients to move beyond traditional ways of doing things. Clients should look for agencies that will push them to improve communication and are comfortable playing the role of challenger with all levels of management.
  5. Independence. While the agency will rely on good information from the client to fuel the PR program, they should work fairly independently. This means developing ideas and pitches, talking with reporters, securing interviews and bylines, and following up with reporters.
  6. Collaborative partnership.  Within the first six months of the relationship, there should form a trusting, reliable partnership that allows both parties the opportunity to present new information, challenge traditional approaches and suggest alternative strategies for reaching the common goal.
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