5 Tips for choosing a PR Agency
I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that in the Middle East and Dubai Public Relations is often still quite a misunderstood industry in terms of deployment, benefits, and impact.
Fortunately, this is changing. Companies are increasingly looking to reap the benefits of implementing strategic PR plans and campaigns to
- Enhance the understanding of their brand and offering among target stakeholders
- Increase customer base
- Build brand loyalty
- Build a solid foundation ahead of any potential crises
However, the increasing importance of PR as a strategic communications tool has resulted in the proliferation of Public Relations Agencies in Dubai and the UAE. A quick Google search reveals an incredibly long list of PR Agencies in Dubai. Not all PR Agencies offer a portfolio of quality services that can be benchmarked against international standards.
It is, therefore, essential that a company searching for the Best Public Relations Agency to match their needs should do their homework and choose carefully.
Here is my list of the top five tips for companies when narrowing down the list of who to entrust with being their Public Relations partner:
1. Take Your Time – Search, Shortlist, and Select
- Your PR Agency will be your eyes and ears on the ground
- Your PR Agency should speak your language, represent your brand and its ethos, and enhances your image
- Your PR partner essentially becomes one of your biggest brand ambassadors
Hence, don’t rush into a decision – take the time to search the market for different potential partners, shortlist agencies and then put together a final list of the Best PR Agencies based on a set of pre-decided criteria or service capabilities and credentials. Consider current and past clients as well as the capabilities and experience of the key members of the Agency’s team.
Study the information carefully and request for the submission of proposals or quotations based on a brief, and finally, make your selection. While this process is time-consuming and laborious, this initial effort will make a huge difference in the long run.
2. Have a goal – Meeting the Brief
Your communication goals and objectives are an integral part of the brief when choosing a PR Agency. Providing a thorough brief is one of the most important factors when shortlisting your potential PR partner.
Clearly state your communication objectives and expectations, and seek out agencies that are confident of helping you achieve these goals. This also helps your company and the pitching agencies to outline a target scope of work and deliverables when developing a results-oriented, sustainable and achievable PR plan.
Not sure how to put together a PR Brief? Try ours.
It is a super easy to use, fill-in-the-blanks form that makes it much easier to put together a PR Brief.
3. Rapport is key
Teamwork plays a critical role in the success of any public relations plan or activity. For that reason, a good rapport between the different stakeholders is essential. During the briefing meeting, this is a factor that should be explored. Are you comfortable in each other company? Is there an easy flow in the conversation and exchange of ideas? Does it feel like you are on the same page?
Yes, in time things can always change for the better or worse but the initial comfort level will help both parties. At the end of the day, your PR Partner becomes an extension of your team, so having everyone on the same page from the outset will make it easier to work together to realize and achieve success for your PR efforts.
4. Budget permutations and combinations
Contrary to what many believe, PR is not a cheap form of Advertising. Yes, Public Relations services do come at a lower cost than certain services offered by advertising, branding or event management agencies, however, don’t make the mistake of choosing the cheapest option.
A lot of work performed by PR professionals is done behind the scenes to ensure a good quality product or a successful campaign. For instance, something as straightforward as a press release requires someone to draft, someone to proofread, someone to translate, someone to disseminate to the media, follow up and finally someone to track, monitor and analyze the outcome. Needless to say more complicated or specialized services like crisis communications, key messaging, issues management, stakeholder mapping, communications protocols, CSR etc. require several senior and experienced resources.
As much as agencies need to try and attach numbers to various aspects of what they do, your relationship with your PR Agency should not become transactional. You want to have a partnership where you work together to achieve your business goals and do not want to be discussing costs at each step along the way.
If you are concerned that being billed hourly gives you no control and makes you nervous that costs might run out of control, agree on a retainer where you know what your fixed costs are. That way you and your PR Agency can focus on reaching your business goals and objectives and work to achieve them. This produces a better result than the PR Agency just meeting a certain number of pre-set tasks that are ticked off with no consideration of whether they are achieving a long term goal or not.
5. Go Big or Go Small?
There is a lot of debate and argument over whether the size of a PR Agency matters. While I do not want to get into the nitty-gritty of that discussion, I will say from my own experience, that when it comes to PR, size does matter.
Smaller, more local boutique agencies can be more cost effective whereas bigger, regional agencies with several offices would come at a higher price bracket but will likely get your company in front of a larger audience. Cost cannot and should not be the sole factor that influences your decision on who to hire. Rather the choice between a multinational or boutique agency should be made based on your stakeholder demographics, your needs, your goals, and expectations from PR. One size doesn’t fit all!
Do you still have questions? We’re recognized as a top Public Relations Company on DesignRush and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have about choosing a PR agency.