So, you want to build brand awareness, generate buzz, get people talking and by proxy make more money.  The solution?  Employ a PR agency.  Seems pretty simple right?  Not quite. 

Finding the right fit can be tricky and in the world of public relations it can sometimes seem like navigating snakeoil salesmen within the wild wild west.  Here’s what to look for when you’re on the hunt for the perfect PR partner.

A badass reputation

All the info you need can’t be found via Google alone.  In fact, the busiest agencies probably don’t have time to update to the latest flash site every six months – rather they are chasing the next win for their clients.  Ask around to get the lay of the land and discover what people have to say about these agencies.  Shiny parties and optics aside, talk to journalists, ex-employees and suppliers to understand the work ethic and type of agency you are looking at – corporate, consumer, executional, creative, strategic – most agencies have specific strengths and don’t profess to be a one stop shop!  For example, here at Undertow we don’t do complex issues management or government relations, but we have a dang good referral that does and often work in tandem with them (their job is to keep people and businesses out of the news, and ours is to get our clients in!).

Proven track record – and loyalty

Results speak for themselves so request some case studies – that way you’re able to see successes of past campaigns and liken your needs to some of theirs.  This will give you a steer of the kind of outcomes you can expect.  Also, if the agency has retained a number of clients for a long period of time, you know it’s doing something right.  A lot of ours (freedom, Mecca, Eichardt’s) have been with us for 5+ years…just saying.

Epic connections

In PR we live and die by our contacts.  If you don’t have connections, you have nothing.  Make sure that the agencies you’re considering have established, genuine relationships with media and influencers and a knowledge of your industry.  If you’re unsure, ask questions and request testimonials.  Any agency worth its salt will be able to produce these confidently.

Say no to yes men

If it seems too good to be true…

Someone recently called us the ‘Switzerland of PR’ with tongue firmly in cheek, however it’s important to seek out a strategic partner that will provide counsel and let you know if your blue-sky plans are unrealistic.   There’s nothing worse than an agency that over promises and under delivers, so look for an honest PR partner to challenge your thinking, provide intelligent recommendations and spend your coin wisely!

Make sure there’s a vibe

The relationship with your PR partner is just that – a relationship, so there needs to be good chemistry. You don’t have to be BFFs but it’s important you like the people on the team so you’re able to build a strong rapport and have a laugh along the way, and that you each respect each other’s expertise. Weekly catch ups shouldn’t be a chore so trust your instincts to ensure there’s trust from the start and good vibes along the way.