One of the nicest things clients say to us is that we are an extension of their team, both for internal communications and PR. I think sometimes there can be more fear around PR, though, since this can make a business feel more exposed and vulnerable. In a very interactive world like today's it's important to choose the right PR agency to put your trust in. 1- the most important - what is it that you need? Make sure you have an action plan and know exactly what you want and are expecting from an agency from the beginning, but be open to advice from the experts – they can often add value to your ideas, and should give you a straight answer if they simply won’t work. If you get ‘yes’ to everything, I’d question if the agency isn’t just taking the business rather than giving you its best consultancy.
2- Awareness - is the agency you're looking at aware of what is going on in the PR world? Do they endeavour to get to know your company, understand your goals? A good awareness for what is going on inside and outside your company is imperative.
3- Imagination - you need to find a bunch of people that have imagination. That don't just agree with everything you say, that think further than you do and come up with new and brilliant ideas continuously. We are very lucky to have a creative team in house so concepts are at our fingertips, but this isn't always the case – make sure there’s scope of creativity, either with an agency’s partners or your own that you can connect the agency to.
4- People - can you work with this team? An agency might be the crème de la crème in the industry but what's a scone without the jam and cream? You need to work with people you respect, trust and enjoy. And you need to find people who understand what you need to achieve within your role as well as the company’s goals as a whole. After-all, a company is only as good as its people.
5- Don't be afraid - never settle. If you want to know more about a company, get references, shop around. An agency that wants your business will never mind questions, and should be able to point you to some great examples of its work and working relationships.