Monday, January 10, 2011

What are the qualities of a great PR firm?

It's been months since I've blogged. These days I'm tweeting a bunch and answering questions on Quroa. In the interest of getting some content on my blog, I'm crossposting one of my recent Quora responses.

Q: What are the qualities of a great PR firm?

A: Qualities of a great PR firm from someone who's both hired and worked at quite a few...

*Organized - A good agency will set and stick to deadlines. A great agency won't make you ask about the status of a deliverable - they'll communicate along the way.

*Stellar media chops - Do they have your key journalists on speed dial? Are they BFF's with the influencers in your space? Often, good agencies do bad work because they are supporting clients where they have no domain expertise. Ask for relevant account portfolios to ensure that they aren't learning everything on your dime. You can save time and money by doing your homework and hiring an agency with prior industry experience.

*Genuine partners - When the going gets tough, are they working late hours alongside you? Or are they nowhere to be found the night before the tour when a blizzard hits Boston and you need to rebook a full week of meetings? A
great agency will feel like an extension of your team. They will have a clear understanding of your topline objectives and they will go the extra mile to get you there because success is shared. A big win for you is a big win for them.

*Detail oriented - Page numbers on every doc without exceptions. Reporter phone numbers. Directions to the next meeting. PR lives and dies by the details. The difference between a good meeting and a bad meeting is often a well constructed or poorly constructed briefing sheet. These are typically drafted by interns. Is someone senior reviewing their work before it gets to your inbox?

*Whip smart - As the client, you're wearing branded blinders and drinking the Kool-Aid every day. A good agency will flag relevant trends and articles and pull you out of the weeds.

*Proactive - Relevant ed-cals from reach publications? That new, hot industry
conference? Beat reporters moving publications? Your agency should be
all over this and you shouldn't have to ask for it, it should just show up in your inbox.

*Trust - Ultimately, great agency relationships are based on trust. These are the people who will call the press on your company's behalf. They are the front line storytellers for your company's narrative. Do you trust them to tell your story? Get key facts and figures right? Accurately represent your position in the market? Save your CEO if a briefing is going completely off the rails? Help you navigate a crisis? Cover day to day operations if you need to be offline for a day?

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