Choosing a PR Agency Part 1: Open Your Mind

flower-1634054_1280Many organizations tend to evaluate PR agencies based on their clientele, reach, industry dominance, support staff and media coverage.

This made sense—then. Not necessarily today.

Public Relations has evolved in many ways. Media relationship (and to a certain extent crisis management) is only part of the PR equation these days. Overall communications, social media engagement, content marketing and brand storytelling are now also PR. Being natural communicators, these requirements are a logical fit for any PR professional.

Publicity has changed. Getting published on big media is no longer the only way to get noticed worldwide. You have corporate blogs, social media engagement, influencers, etc., all offering other ways to reach your audience effectively. In some industries, like FMCG, travel and healthcare, these alternate channels are sometimes more important.

Media still plays an important role, but they are often seen as a channel for validation. By the time your company gets reported on by a big media outlet, you can bet that people would have already been talking about you. To get noticed by the media, you should be the talk of the town. For that to happen, you need a good content marketing strategy and strong relationships with key industry influencers—the job of PR professionals.

How media works has evolved as well. That’s because many media trawl social media channels and other means to get their story ideas and leads—not just relying on a press release. In fact, the value of a press release itself is changing, with many new companies choosing blogging over press release announcements.

Big PR agency operations have also changed. There are a lot more boutique-type agencies and specialists who bring unique skillsets to the table. They see the value of operating small simply because it gives them flexibility to work with other agencies who may have other proficiencies or domain knowledge. It’s different from yesteryear’s do-it-all mentality.

Today’s PR pro tends to work more independently—and they are good! There are a lot of freelancers who are quite experienced and prefer to work for themselves. Besides, a lot of big agencies themselves work with many of these smaller agencies or freelancers. In fact, many are brokers and add a percentage on top of all the charges.[bctt tweet=”Today’s #PR pro tends to work more independently RT if you agree” username=”@BroadPR”]

PR is becoming more and more measurable. Digital marketing has created a whole set of tools to measure sentiment, engagement and awareness that go beyond counting the size of article coverage. In turn, this has changed how PR can be effective.

This means that choosing a PR agency is no longer a clear-cut decision. You need to identify what skillsets your current team or company lacks, and what role you want the PR professional/agency to play. It’s all about fit and synergy of strengths. You are, after all, handing over the keys to your reputation.