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How To Hire The Best PR Agency

So you’re looking to hire the best public relations agency in New Jersey, but might be a little stuck as to where to begin. Well you’ve come to the right place!

It’s not easy and we get it! It’s a lot more than just searching for a PR agency; you’re looking for a close partner.

Working with the best PR agency in New Jersey is a key ingredient for a successful marketing program.

Here’s how we’re going to help… Listed below are the 20 best questions to ask a public relations agency in your search for finding the best one.

Getting To Know Them

Who will be working directly on my account?

First impressions are crucial. That’s why most PR agencies send in their best people to pitch their business and close the sale, after that they pass you on to lower-level employees.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to find out who on their team will be working with you day-to-day before you give them the go-ahead. Ask to meet with the PR team members and decide if they are skilled enough to give you the results that you’re looking for.

Do you have client experience within our industry?

I’m not saying that it’s essential to hire a PR agency that has experience in your industry but it will definitely put your campaign one step ahead. A more experienced agency will have a better understanding of your organization and industry. They can use their existing contacts with your target media outlets to apply the PR tactics that work best for you.

While on the topic, it is also a great time to find out if they are servicing any of your direct competitors.

Who else is on your client roster?

This is a great opportunity to get to know your PR agency even better. Ask about their client roster and then go home and do a little research.

What kind of research should you be doing on their client roster? Look at what’s going on in the news with the clients listed. This will give you an insight on the caliber of work the agency is capable of. This is also a great way to see the type of relationships they build with their clients.

How will we communicate with each other?

You need to be clear about your availability and needs while searching for a PR agency and have them be clear about theirs. Do they have restrictions? Say if you have an event on the weekends or evenings, will they be able to cater to those needs?

Also ask how often and through what means you will communicate. Set up a schedule so you are never guessing when you’ll hear from them next.

What client support do you provide?

How is your PR agency going to be there for you? Will they be there 24/7 or just Monday through Friday? Are you able to call your account manager directly? How quickly do they respond to account issues?

Get to know how what support they are willing to offer you. You might not need them to be at your beck and call, but you do need an agency that will respond in a reasonable amount of time.

Their PR Methods

How do you stay on top of current trends and events?

You’re not just looking for the super hip PR agency… you’re looking for the agency that is actively researching and engaging influencers and uncovering new ways to add value to your organization.

This will help you find out whether or not an agency is growing and adapting or if they are stuck on using a more traditional approach. And with the ever-changing world around us… I’m thinking you probably shouldn’t stick to just the traditional approach.

How do you integrate media relations with other communication?

You need to be aware of the need to integrate marketing mediums. This question helps you communicate to a PR agency that you find this important and they should too. Find out exactly how they plan to reach these goals.

This would also be a great time to discuss how the agency communicates media coverage so it can be leveraged throughout your marketing channels. Which brings us to our next question.

How often should I see media coverage?

The answer to this question should not be left up to assumptions (because we all know what happens when you assume…). An agency may not be able to give you an exact number of times you’ll be covered by media (because, well… this isn’t advertising). However, they should be able to provide you with a range. It is unacceptable to pay a monthly retainer without receiving a monthly coverage.

What media would you contact to get me greater publicity?

Whether it’s traditional media placements, online promotions or even both, you want to know what a PR agency has in store to help you get the best results and reach your target demographic most effectively. The key is to find a firm that uses both old and new media to give you a variety of campaigns.

Do you provide media coaching?

We’re not all experts on how to deal with the news media, and we shouldn’t be expected to be. Find a PR agency that offers training on media interviews. This knowledge will be extremely valuable for business owners. Don’t be afraid to ask. Like I said before, you’re looking for a partner and a partner is always willing to help.

What’s your Website Grade?

A strong PR agency should have a strong Website Grade. A Website Grade will demonstrate an agency’s knowledge and capabilities in search engine optimization, social media and content marketing. All of which are essential parts of today’s PR firms.

How else can you help my organization?

Yes, of course you’re going to a PR agency for help in media relations, but a really, really good PR agency will be able to help you in other ways as well. They may be good at handling other things such as social media and blogging.

In this next section, you’ll see which questions to ask to find out what aspects of social media they are good at and how they incorporate it into your PR campaign.

How They Incorporate Social Media

How do you incorporate social and digital media in your PR campaigns?

Everyone is on social media, whether it is Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or any other social media channel out there, and PR has hopped on that bandwagon. PR is now closely integrated with social media and any agency should be familiar with these trends and how to harness them for PR.

Some answers you might be looking for are what they have done for clients on Twitter and Facebook and how they have developed contests and interactive promotions on social networks. Whoever you hire should be well versed in social media.

How active are the consultants/account managers and agency leaders in social networking, specifically LinkedIn and Twitter?

It is more than extremely important for the lead strategist working on your account to be heavily engaged in all social networking. If they don’t, how will they ever provide the expertise and strategy your business needs to succeed online.

Do you maintain an insightful agency blog?

They don’t have a blog? So long! Just move on to the next agency because they are too far behind the times if that’s the case. Every PR agency should integrate a blog into their site to bring value and results to your business needs.

If they do have a blog, great! But don’t just stop there. Make sure it’s being updated regularly (at least once per week) and with content that is relevant to their readers. Also be sure the blog is hosted on their domain and not someone else’s so you are sure that they understand the search engine value of blogging and content marketing.

How They Achieve Goals

How do you measure results?

Yeah, it’s great to measure how many Facebook “likes” your page gets and print media placements but you want to find a PR agency that does more. That’s the whole theme of this blog. We want to help you find an agency that goes above and beyond.

So what should they be measuring? They should be looking at how much your client email list and traffic to your website has grown due to a PR campaign. Focus on search engine rankings, inbound links, website traffic, leads and sales. It’s good to be clear from the beginning what qualitative and quantitative measures are being used and how these results will be delivered.

Based on the brief we provided, what do you think are our biggest PR challenges? What PR opportunities should we take advantage of?

This is a great way to test the PR agency’s understanding of your company, your current PR standing and your PR goals. You will be able to tell how thoughtful the agency is and how well they can think strategically through their answer to this question.

What will you need from me to make this relationship work?

There needs to be a clear understanding of what your PR agency is going to do and what you are going to do. It’s naive to think that your PR agency will take all the work off your back. You will still need to put in your time and energy whether it’s by tweeting, blogging or being available to speak with the media. You need to be involved in your own PR.

How much time do I need to spend to achieve my goals?

Come prepared to talk about your goals right away. Different goals take different amounts of time to accomplish. Tell them what you want and ask them how many hours it should take. Always be up front with your PR agency to ensure you are receiving the most realistic answers.


Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!

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