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The importance of choosing the right public relations agency

The power of public relations (PR) is widely respected, with high profile advocates such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson noting that PR is one of the most critical business tools for success. 

Indeed, businesses succeed in crowded marketplaces often as a direct result of their ability to out-market their rivals through commercially-focused PR campaigns.

PR reaches hearts and minds, it gets people talking and ultimately can change what people think, what they believe and what they do. Therefore, it is critical that you get this right as there is a lot at stake, both in terms of financial return and brand reputation.

When PR is done well, it delivers impressive commercial benefits that no other marketing method can match, at a fraction of the cost. But, this success is dependant on hiring a PR agency that has the right personnel, connections and tools to get your brand and its key messages in front of your target audiences. 

So if you are thinking of appointing a PR agency then here are a few pointers that may help you hire the right partner for the right reasons right from the start.

1. Understands you and your business

Only appoint an agency that takes the necessary time required to fully get to know your business, the opportunities you face and the challenges you regularly encounter. The right partner will ask questions to ensure that they really understand your business objectives and your aspirations. They may even ask you to share your business plan with them so they can align their support and help fast track growth. They should challenge your beliefs and sense check what a successful PR campaign will look and feel like to you. It is only with this knowledge that they will be able to develop a commercial PR strategy that will achieve your business goals and deliver a measurable return on investment.

2. Data driven, and emotionally intelligent

How does PR have the ability to reach a target audience and change what they think, feel and do? For successful agencies, it’s all about strategy rooted in quantitative research, overlapped with emotional intelligence. Your chosen partner should look at numerous data sources and evaluate publishing platforms against consumer engagement and brand objectives. Only by thoroughly researching your audiences and their behaviours can they create compelling stories that will really resonate. Similarly, they should never stop evaluating and measuring, so they can see quickly what’s working and what either needs greater focus or a change in direction.

3. Fluff-free zone

You may have heard the phrase ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ based upon the theory that as long as people are talking about you, it’s a good thing. PR for PR’s sake should be a massive no-no when discussing possible tactics with any agency. The publicity you get should be relevant to your marketing and business strategy, not simply to get your name into print. Apply the ‘so what?’ principle to all tactics – and unless the activity delivers on your objectives (whether that is more customers, more website traffic, increased brand awareness) then don’t waste your money on pointless activities.

4. Connections

Is there anything more important in life than the connection we share with others? Even in today’s online world, people still do business with people – and most often people that they already know and like. 

Strategic connections are critical to the ongoing success of any business and the PR partner you appoint should be able to provide strategic business connections that boost your own. Your chosen agency should have an extensive network of industry contacts that enables its clients to gain preferred access to key business and community leaders, economic development organisations, professional services providers, business partners and potential new customers. 

Ask them who they are connected to and what sectors they operate in and always be prepared to ask them for personal introductions to people who can benefit your business.

5. Chemistry Matters

Of course it matters that you are 100 per cent confident that the team you hire will do a great job, but it’s also just as important that you genuinely like them. 

You should be excited to work with these people and be proud to have them as part of your extended team. After all, they’re going to be representing your business to the media.

The relationship should be fun, enriching and add real value to your day-to-day work life, as well as your bottom line. And while your account team will work with a number of clients, you should never feel like they are working with anyone but you.

If you are looking to appoint a PR partner, or want to discuss the commercial benefits of a PR campaign for your business, then please get in touch. 

Email Caroline Aspinall at caroline@democracypr.com, call 0161 881 5941 or pop in to see us at our lovely offices on Beech Road in Chorlton, Manchester: The Boxworks, 62 Beech Road, Chorlton, M21 9EG.

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