Spin doctors, professional liars, bulls**t merchants. People have a huge range of insults for Public Relations and Marketing professionals and there’s a good reason why. There are a lot of people out there who are excellent at promoting themselves but may not necessarily be able to deliver the same for your brand as they do for their own.
Here’s how to sort the wheat from the chaff when an agency pitches to you:
- Request a good, recent case study that is relevant to what you are seeking. If they’re showing you gorgeous, slick campaigns from ten years ago, this should instantly raise alarm bells.
- Ask them what success looks like. If they’re going to be right for you their answer should be tailored to your business. Hastily edited template documents that have been trotted out for dozens of clients are just not good enough.
- If they’re really getting under the skin of your business the conversation should be in-depth. They should ask as many questions as you do, if not more. It may take time but at least you know they’re genuinely paying attention and not just reciting an old, well-worn script.
- They shouldn’t feel any pressure to appear more knowledgeable than you. In fact, a good PR should be asking questions all the time, breaking through industry jargon and getting to grips with how they can communicate your messages simply and clearly to your potential customers. Warning bells should go off if they start trying to educate you, rather than getting to grips with your expertise.
- Are they criticising your current provider or way of working? Given that they’re sitting there with you because you want to improve your communications, there should never be a need for that. It could very well be a sign that they aren’t someone you really want to work with.
- Trust your gut. You’re going to put your company’s reputations in somebody’s hands so if anything about them is giving you pause, reconsider.