Three questions every CMO should ask before hiring a PR agency

Aug 16, 2021 | B2B PR Blog, Measurable PR and Marketing, Our PR approach

Appointing a PR agency can be daunting and time consuming, but by asking the right questions you can make your process efficient and rewarding and your outcome a success. By securing the right blend of expertise, you can unlock new channels of influence and persuasion you might not have had access to before.

So, how do you find a PR agency that will maximise benefits and achieve results that you would likely not be able to generate yourself? First things first, ask these questions, and you’ll be able to nail the criteria that are most important to you and your business.

As a CMO, there might be some questions you have already answered, such as ‘why now?’ Perhaps you have an important launch coming up, or you want to improve your brand awareness in an upcoming business quarter. If you’re wondering what to ask next, we’ve put together this list.

1 What do you need to know about my business?

Even the greatest PR experts, with years in the industry and a portfolio of impressive clients, are not telepathic. They need to know about your business aspirations, ambitions, and challenges. They will need to understand your business functions, meet your team, and find out what it is you want to achieve. Ask them what they need from you, whether that’s a customer roster, press releases on new products or services, changes of senior management, or upcoming mergers. All of this, of course, will be covered by an NDA, so you can be at ease sharing this valuable information.

Good things take time, and a great PR agency will leave no stone unturned, so be prepared to answer a lot of questions and offer up time for face-to-face meetings or calls that can inform decision making.

The investment you make in PR is not just financial, it requires time and careful consideration to brief the PR agency and engage in planning and strategy sessions. It’s a relationship that requires nurturing so that they can hit the ground running, create incredible campaigns, and deliver successful outcomes.

hiring a PR agency

2 Who will be on our PR team?

‘Who will be on our PR team’ may not always be the same as ‘who will be on the sales pitch’. Be wary of who a PR agency features on the ‘team’ slide of any presentation deck. Large PR agencies might feature the most impressive Account Directors, and perhaps even their CEO, depending on the size of your account. With the promise of director-level expertise for your campaigns, you might be surprised to see it’s a very different story when you start working together. Those people are suddenly nowhere to be seen, and instead, your day-to-day contact is a junior account manager.

Always ask this question before you proceed so you can understand who will be managing your account. Take this opportunity to get to know them as well and find out how you’ll be working with them on the day-to-day basis. Ask each team member to describe their role, their strengths and why they think they’d be great at representing your brand. Get them to outline the following too:

Experience and areas of industry expertise

Previous clients

Prior successes

Reviews and testimonials

‘Sweet spot’: What aspect of their job they really love – the answer can be telling

When it comes to PR agency teams, size isn’t everything. With a smaller, tight-knit, account team you’ll be able to develop a much closer relationship with mutual understanding. Together you can get to know each other’s work styles, and communicate in the right way, and ensure that the work you do together is successful and rewarding.

How does your agency measure outcomes?

Understanding what success looks like is critical as you need to demonstrate the return on your investment – how your agency measures outcomes is key. Clear objectives and goals should be set for every campaign, and you should be clear on how you’re going to measure success, but also what goals you have. Let’s say for example you want press coverage, all coverage is not equal, so be clear on whether you want opinion pieces, editorial or just company mentions in leading publications.

Ask about the tools they use for tracking results and analytics, and find out how they used them for previous clients. This is a way to find out what metrics they will be delivering, and how often they can pull reports that will feed into your weekly, monthly, and quarterly business meetings.

When hiring a PR agency you should also choose someone who looks beyond those initial measurements to factors that will help your business grow, such as tracking how much your prospective client email list and traffic to your website have grown because of a specific PR campaign.

Ultimately, the PR agency you choose can be a great complement to your marketing efforts, drive more traffic to your site, and facilitate brand awareness that gets you in front of the right customers. So don’t be afraid to meet with lots of agencies, and ask them plenty of questions, before you decide on one to proceed with.

If you want to know more about B2B communication and the work EC-PR does for its clients, get in touch, or browse some of our tech PR case studies. Download our guide on how much PR costs and read our helpful post on how to write the perfect brief for your PR agency.

Hiring a PR agency - what to ask

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