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Selecting marketing and PR agencies: 11 things to consider

Choosing an agency to help deliver key aspects of your marketing or PR is a big decision for any business. After all, you’re going to invest time, money and energy to build a good relationship with the agency you choose, so they deliver for you. So how do you make the right decision for your company? Here’s a checklist of the things you need to consider.

1. Are they a specialist or generalist?

Does the agency you’re looking at do multiple strands of marketing – such as PR, digital, advertising and design – or just one? Map this onto your needs, and decide whether you would benefit more from specialist expertise, or the convenience of generalist marketing under one roof.

2. Are they B2B, or are they B2C?

If your company is B2B, you need an agency that has experience in this. Equally, consumer marketing incorporates different elements to business-to-business marketing. Business versus consumer audiences require a different kind of know-how, and it’s essential to work with a team that specialises in one or the other.

3. What experience do they have with other clients?

Do you personally know someone who has worked with the agency you want to work with? A personal referral will give you a better picture over testimonials or a list of clients on the agency’s website. Find out about specifics – what projects were delivered; who did what; and was the desired impact gained?

4. What do their industry connections look like?

An agency’s network and connections within your industry is a key indicator of how knowledgeable they are. Shortlist agencies who attend key events and who you have personally seen to be active in your industry.

5. Are they process driven?

Good agencies have a defined process for working on specific projects. They know what works from experience yet aren’t afraid to adjust where needed, and follow processes in order to generate results. Ask about any processes an agency follows before appointing them.

6. How do they measure impact?

Find out if the agency you want to work with has key performance indicators (KPIs) – both to measure their own work, as well as the performance of their client accounts. Ideally, you would create KPIs for your account in tandem with the agency, but make sure they have experience working to clear deliverables and measuring results. The success of your partnership with an agency will come down to impact, so understanding this early on is crucial.

7. Do they understand you?

Ask yourself whether the agency listens to your problems, and understands your vision and goals. You want to find an agency that will follow strong processes which consider the nuances of your company and specific industry sector.

8. Is there a proposal process?

You need to be absolutely clear on what an agency is planning to deliver, and what outcomes you can expect. Ask about their request for proposal (RFP) process to ensure everything is captured in writing. It’s important that both you and the agency are clear on what is a successful campaign, what the objectives are and what it will take to get there.

9. Who will run your account?

Several team members from an agency might turn up to the pitch, but this does not necessarily reflect who will run your account. Drill into the agency structure and which individuals will actually do the work on your account.

10. Weigh up big versus small

You might be tempted to go with a big agency because they’re well known and have a large team. Or you might prefer the idea of a smaller boutique agency, where the individuals have more specialist expertise. Consider the pros and cons of both in relation to your business.

11. Look at achievements, not profile

Many agencies tend to highlight the profiles of their team members – for example, national newspapers they’ve written for, or big brands they formerly worked for. But instead of looking at the profiles of the people at an agency, ask about specific things the individuals have achieved for other businesses. This is the true reflection of their skill sets, and helps you understand the potential value of their experience when applied to your company.

These points should help you in the research and decision making process. It’s also important to be clear about the charges, while most agencies still charge by the hour - you are better off working with an agency that really understands the value of the work. The more value you can get from your campaign the greater the longevity of your investment.

Haynes MarComs enables you to prioritise your investment and maximise certainty of impact to your commercial objectives. Building a marcomms campaign is no overnight success, but requires a strategic approach to ensure all audiences and stakeholders really connect with your value proposition.

Contact us to find out how we can keep you agile while driving visibility and engagement in your market.

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