On Friday I blogged about things to think about when hiring a PR firm. Developing a score card for each PR agency or counselor that you evaluate can be a helpful tool in making a final decision. Four big areas to “vet” include:
- Communication skills
- PR staff characteristics
- PR services offered
- Overall character
To get more granular, under “communication skills” consider these questions:
- How well do they know your industry? Did they do their homework before meetings and their pitch?
- Do they appear to engage in strategic thinking that adds value? Do their tactics stem from objectives and strategy?
- Is their timeframe clear? Is the program budget reasonable?
- Do their ideas appear innovative yet personal to your organization, and clearly outlined? Are their ideas realistic and makes sense?
- Is the program measurable?
Under “PR Staff Characteristics” consider these questions:
- Does your team and the PR team assigned have good chemistry and a good mix of personalities?
- Have you met the people – before hiring the firm – who will be conducting the campaign?
- Does everyone you’ve met at the firm appear to be professional, qualified and competent?
- Is the account team accessible and responsive? How quickly do they answer your communications?
- Does the staff have experience in your industry or markets?
- Are they enthusiastic about the strategies and tactics offered?
- Do they have demonstrated “street smarts” and common sense?
- Do they have client references?
- Do they have a written approach to financial and administrative account management?
- Do they understand time and budget management?
Under “PR Services Offered” consider these questions:
- Do they have examples of proven outcomes for clients?
- Do they have proof of competency for the type of strategies you hope they deploy for you (examples would be social media, writing, research, media relations, speaking engagements, trade shows, events and more)
- Does everyone on the team appear to have a baseline of knowledge and competency in the PR field? (examples include social media savvy, writing skills and more)
- Do they have any specialties, such as crisis communications or messaging and storytelling work that is important to you?
- Are their people published, have blogs, strong online presences and other personal branding strategies that keep them connected and constantly learning?
- Does the firm appear to have invested in their people’s ongoing education and evolution?
- Do they invest in the tools necessary to do their jobs, including analysis, tracking, issuing of news, and other administrative functions necessary to execute and evaluate the program?
Under “Overall Character” consider these questions:
- Does the firm share its mission and values?
- Can the firm service multiple accounts seamlessly and efficiently?
- Is the firm known in its field? Been published or has engaged in thought leadership activities in its industry?
- Have client conflicts been discussed and resolved?
- Has the size, stability and make-up of the firm been shared?