5 Characteristics to Look For in a PR Agency

by Michelle Salater on September 27, 2010


After performing extensive research on PR firms, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and take a deep look at each potential firm.

Below are 5 essential characteristics you should look for in a PR agency:

1. A solid social media presence: Visit Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, bookmarking sites, and other popular social media sites to see if the PR firm is present on these platforms. Observe their followers and the content on these sites and the comments / reactions these firms have received from others on their social networking profiles.

Red Flags:

  • The agency’s social media activity is low.
  • The firm lacks followers and comments. If they can’t get followers for themselves, how can you expect them to do so for your company?
  • The content shared on the agency’s social media pages lacks value and is focused primarily on the firm itself.
  • There are negative comments on the firm’s profiles—either written by the PR agency or by others about the firm.

2. Skilled copywriters: A successful PR firm has skilled copywriters who know how to write effective and optimized press releases and are skilled in projecting your accurate brand message in story pitches and promotions.

These copywriters should also be aware of effective blog writing techniques and have knowledge about optimizing blog and social media posts with proper keywords.

The firm should also be knowledgeable in keyword research and be able to provide you with the proper keywords for your business.

Red Flags:

  • The firm’s blog and other marketing materials are poorly written with information that is of little value and riddled with grammatical errors.
  • The agency’s sample press releases are written for consumers and not for the media. This is not an effective or proper press release.
  • The PR company’s copywriting looks the same for all of their past clients, showing very little diversity.

3. Outstanding client results: The proof is in the pudding when it comes to hiring a PR agency. This is why you should always ask for the results of past clients and instantly receive numerous case studies and analytics that illustrate how the firm’s marketing efforts produced results for each of their clients.

Red Flags:

  • Case studies provided by the firm lack tangible results.
  • Results produced by the agency’s marketing efforts are not of value. For example, if the PR company got a client into a low-budget magazine that did absolutely nothing for the client’s business, this would be considered a result of no value.
  • Proof of the agency’s efforts can’t be found anywhere.

4. Understanding of PR today: PR is by no means what it used to be. Mass, impersonal marketing efforts are going to get you nowhere in the age of Web 2.0 where consumers are looking for relationships, not for companies to sell to them. Customers are looking to engage with others and stay connected in the digital world. If you’re going to penetrate their social media bubble, it has to be done tactfully. A PR firm needs to understand proper social media etiquette and the needs and mindset of your specific target audience.

Red Flags:

  • The PR company only focuses on print media.
  • The agency believes that hard selling is the only way to promote your brand online.
  • The firm lacks the understanding of social media etiquette and doesn’t understand the nature of the blogosphere.

5. Strong relationships with influential bloggers and media outlets: The relationships that PR professionals form and their sphere of influence have a huge effect on the results you’ll see from their efforts. A great PR professional understands how to approach bloggers and individuals in the media and knows how to express your story in a unique way. The relationships a PR firm forms with media professionals are developed over time and are the result of patience, giving, honesty, and respect.

Red Flags:

  • The firm has a bad reputation in the blogosphere.
  • The agency lacks a solid network of influencers and followers.

Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in our comments section, or share it with your friends on Facebook.

If you like this post, you might also like:

  1. 5 Types of Social Media Tools You Should be Using
  2. BlogDash: Finding Key Bloggers Has Never Been So Simple
  3. Five Tips on How to Avoid a Social Media Disaster
  4. Is Google+ the Facebook Killer?
  5. Experience the Hottest Marketing Tool

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