Ahh, late August. A time for backpacks, school buses and budget planning. With Q4 closing in on us, companies are swinging into full 2011 planning mode. While 2009 was a financially challenging year for many, 2010 has seen some budget increases – or at least a correction back to similar pre-recession levels. Where is your organization this year? If you are considering a new external PR program, investigating a new agency or planning an agency search, here are a few tips:
- Establish what you want your PR partner to accomplish and who is going to be involved in the decision making up front, so there aren’t roadblocks along the way.
- Focus your agency search. Starting with a field of 20 agencies is going to drain your energy (and your interest in the effort) and waste a lot of time. Look for industry experience, personal recommendations and proven success for the agency’s other clients to narrow the field of candidates.
- Be realistic about your timing. We all have good intentions about timelines to selecting partners but—in reality—it always takes longer than expected. Stay in touch with candidates to keep them updated on the latest, or at least let them know there are no changes.
- Pay attention to follow through. Make sure the agency delivers what it promises. Timely responses and meeting proposal deadlines are absolute must haves. And don’t forget reference checks to learn what it is really like to work with a particular agency’s team.
- Don’t lose sight of the value of chemistry. Certainly industry experience and creativity are helpful, but at the end of the day it is often about who you work with best.