In late February we held a webinar with three PR agency leaders: Mark Addison, Chairman & President, Rocket Science; Barbara Bates, CEO, Hotwire; and Kate Krane, EVP, Edelman PNW. The genesis of the webinar was a piece of content we wanted to write about a question we are often asked by our clients: “How do you know when to hire a PR firm?” That question inspired us to bring these experts together. Here are some highlights from the discussion.
- The stage of a company is a likely factor in terms of hiring an agency rather than size or market capitalization. If the level of expertise has exceeded the knowledge inside the company, it might be time to hire an agency. If your company is at a turning point, you hired a new CEO, are getting ready to go public or are having a game-changing product launch, you might need to hire an agency to add more arms and legs to support your company.
- Understand what you need and what your objectives are before hiring an agency. It might seem obvious, but when you are hiring an agency, you need to understand what you are expecting them to do. You need to understand how the agency works, and match how they work with how you work.
- Commit to providing time, resources and investment while building your agency relationship and, after building, maintain the relationship. Like all other relationships, your relationship with your agency requires care and feeding. Part of that care comes from engaging your C-suite and making sure that you are building partnerships.
- Team build. Once you have chosen the agency, build a plan, understand how they work and your needs, and commit to the investment. You need to treat an agency like they are a member of your team. As a member of your team, they will receive all the information they need to know to support you and your mission. If the agency doesn’t have all the keys, they will not be able to provide you the support and wisdom you are paying them to provide.
- Discuss budgets upfront and rely on the agency to give you feedback. If you are planning a large product announcement, an event or management change, get the agency engaged early, so that they can help you budget appropriately for the work. You don’t want to be frustrated, and you don’t want the agency to be frustrated because you didn’t account for an appropriate budget for the work you require.
We hope these five tips help you when hiring and working with a PR agency. As Barbara Bates with Hotwire said: “Be brave. You are hiring someone because something isn’t working; you are looking for a change.”
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