Choosing an agency is pretty much like choosing your partner. Whether it’s for a year or for life, you need to make sure there is a synergy between you two, and that they are right for your needs at the time. So you need to choose an agency of the right size.
Of course, it’s completely your decision. But, in the same way that it’s good to listen to your friends/ parents regarding partners, there’s learning to be had from other people when choosing an agency.
Here are some things to bear in mind when thinking about the size of the organisation you choose to work with:
Well, wasn’t the pandemic a great leveller? Pre-lockdown, we would do calls with people in swanky warehouses/ uber glossy loft-living open plan spaces, or wood panelled offices. During the endless Zoom/Teams/Google Meet calls that followed in 2020/21, those same people would invariably be in back-bedrooms. Or their kitchen.
I think the learning from that is: don’t be swayed by the offices. It’s the people who count, EVERY TIME.
Premises, salaries, pensions, equipment, perks, training, insurances, accountancy charges, subscriptions, online services, memberships, marketing, profit … the truth is, the amount you pay to an agency contributes to a lot of overheads, regardless of agency size.
But you can imagine, if you were employing a lot of people, you would want a bigger financial buffer to protect your staff; and you’ll have more overheads. Which will probably result in proportionately higher costs.
That aside though, here are some things to ask:
Most times, independent practitioners are extremely experienced professionals, who want to run a business their way – with the ability to choose who they work for. For example, I only work with companies where I am absolutely convinced that I can make a real difference. My speciality sectors are within manufacturing and supply chain. And crucially, only for people that I like and respect.
The good news is that you will know who is on your account. You will build a bond of trust, and an ally. Someone who has your back and will consistently deliver.
So what additional questions do you ask an independent PR practitioner (because all the above ones are relevant)?
Speak to a range of PR agency sizes. But bear in mind that beyond the snazzy pitch decks and fancy coffees, it’s real people doing the work. Make sure they are the ones who understand your sector; that you get on with.. and that can deliver the results you need.