What people say about PR firms...
Catching up with some C-suite colleagues today I heard some recurring themes about PR firms.
Sadly for the PR profession they were not particularly flattering.
"They're just not that smart"
"They don't get the business"
"Appalling to deal with"
"Would never hire them"
You get the general picture. While it's tempting to defend the good work done by many great PR people, I thought it might be more constructive, from inside a consultancy, to offer some ideas about how to sort the truly terrible firms from the potentially great ones.
Top 3 things to ask your PR firm
Here are things I'd now want to know about my PR firm if I was in house, hiring a consultant again. These are not, in my experience, the usual pitch-type questions you probably already know, and ask.
1. Do you have any client satisfaction data you can share with us?
Yes, you and everyone else can show us great results....but how good are you at managing the relationship? Do you have proof that you do it well across all clients? Actual numbers or client survey data?
2. What do journalists say about you? Can we talk to them?
As revealing as media feedback might be, the list of journos NOT offered, especially in a small industry trade media circle, may be as revealing as the names of those who are offered as potential referees.
3. How do you manage your team?
PR firms, like other consultancies, can be demanding (and rewarding) places to work. Ideally your chosen partner gives a lot of thought and resources to developing and looking after the people who will work with you. Their happiness, and how well they are supported, will have a big impact on your results.
These are just three of many possible questions. My team, reading this, will most likely have even better questions - some of which would be way more searching than my suggestions.
Aiming for excellence
Our team shares a value of excellence - in our world that doesn't mean just hitting a certain standard - it also means continually lifting the bar to deliver ever better results or improve how we work.
Asking ourselves the hard questions is one way of continuing to improve - what we do, and how.
I'd be interested to hear other ideas...