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How to hire a PR agency

If you're looking for a bit of extra support, or a long-term communications partnership, this short guide provides some tips on how to find the right PR agency to help you.

Things you'll need

  • A clear idea of the value you want an agency to add

Look for specialists

There are hundreds of PR agencies in the UK and all are different, with different ways of working and different specialist areas. Look for an agency that complements the aims of your own organisation. Agencies will be happy to talk to you about their experience and their principles. Find one that has a proven track record in the issues you work on, and look for those who specialise in the sector. 


Find someone that you'll enjoy working with


A good agency will be as interested in you as you are in them and should be flexible enough to get under the skin of your organisation. You are likely to spend a good deal of time working together, so try to find individuals you feel you could build an open and honest relationship with and who will work with you to put your organisation’s interests at the heart of everything they do.



Look for passion and principles


It is important that your agency team displays the same passion for your cause that you do, so question their commitment to their principles. You may also want to check that a company, or the larger group of companies to which it belongs, doesn’t have interests that might conflict with your own.



Arrange face-to-face meetings

For best results, the appointment process should always include a face-to-face discussion as well as a written brief, so you can gain a real sense of the organisation. Insist that those you meet are the people you'd actually be working with if you appointed that agency, so you can be sure about what you're getting.


Provide as clear a brief as possible

A good agency should be happy to help work with you to refine your brief if necessary, but try to be clear from the start about:

  • what you want to achieve
  • who you want to communicate with
  • your priority messages and ideas
  • your budget

Also, provide any relevant background information up front, so the agency can approach the brief in the right context.


Make contact with a manageable number of agencies

Don't send your brief out to an endless list of agencies - you'll make the process impossible for yourself! Put time into researching who would offer the best fit, based on recommendations, specialisms and relevant track record.


Give plenty of notice

Make sure you allow agencies plenty of time to respond to your brief, so they can research and develop a proposal that offers the best possible ideas for you. 


Look for ideas, ability and a team you can work with

Don't think of proposals as a definitive project plan. They are a
presentation of what an agency might do for you, not a rigid
manifesto. If an agency has the experience, flexibility and
temperament to work with you effectively, plans can be finalised
between you.


Think carefully about the contract period

A contract with a PR agency can be adapted to cover any length of time so you needn’t be tied in for long periods. It is often best to work on a project basis, rather than agree a long-term retainer. And build in regular evaluation and review points. 


Page last edited Feb 12, 2019 History

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