Procurement Secrets for Selecting the Best PR Agency – Part 2

In our last post, we discussed how purchasing executives should consider how a PR agency’s expertise and experience in the client’s industry sector can affect the value they can generate for their company.

Generally, the more experience and expertise (and current clients involved) in your sector, the more efficient and effective they can be.

That’s because they don’t have to re-invent the wheel … and you don’t have to pay for the time and effort to do that.

PR agencies with deep experience in your sector (in our case, the automotive mobility space) have been down this road before with many other clients.

They understand your audience, know the key industry trends and issues … have solid relationships with the right reporters, event organizers, influencers and thought leaders … and can hit the ground running in generating great PR results for you.

So, what other factors should a procurement buyer consider when evaluating PR firms?

  • Staff focus – Are all the staff focused on your sector? Who will be on your account team and what is their specific experience in your industry? Are they specialists in your sector or Jacks- or Jills-of-all-trades who split their time across a mélange of disparate unrelated sectors?
  • Staff experience – Are the staff members earmarked for your account senior professionals with 12 or more years of experience in your area … or are they junior professionals who are smart and eager but will require a lot of your marketing department’s time being educated, coached and trained about your sector?
  • Client budget size – What’s the typical PR budget for the agency’s clients? And how does your budget compare? Would your account be the smallest – which means you’re likely to get less attention? Or the largest – which means they might strain to meet your needs in peak times?
  • Business focus – Does the PR firm focus solely on business-to-business clients, business-to-consumer clients or business-to-government clients – or do they work with all three? All are different, so specialization in one category may bring you the best value, again because of the efficiency of expertise.
  • Product/category experience – It helps if the PR agency has experience doing PR for products that compete with yours. This can be a big time-saver and can also enable them to provide important insights relative to your messaging and differentiation.
  • Range of services – Is the agency full service or specialized? Not every client needs a full service, one-size-fits-all integrated marketing communications agency. Some clients just want PR without advertising or social media support. Will you ultimately be paying for a broad range of services and capabilities that you don’t want or need? Does the agency have relationships with other vendors to provide any special services you may require, so you’ll have access to the services without the carrying costs?
  • Reach – Today, many PR agencies are focused on local markets but struggle with national work. Some firms that are specialized in a specific industry sector, such as ours which specializes in automotive mobility suppliers, are more national or continental in scope.

If you’re primarily focused on North America, for example, but occasionally have needs in other countries such as Brazil or Japan or Germany, does the agency have partners or affiliates on the ground in those markets that know the local customs, language and media? A PR agency with such a network can save you a lot of time and trouble and can even bundle these international efforts with a single point of contact.

The Power of Expertise

To sum up the points above, the best value will come from a PR agency whose expertise aligns with your specific company’s needs.

Where does expertise come from?

The “expert on experts” David C. Baker, author of best-seller The Business of Expertise, says that expertise comes from concentration … and putting one’s time in.

He says the expert brings knowledge, which comes from focus. And a PR agency’s sharp focus enables them to collect information and data that other agencies do not have.

And that information leads to valuable insights.

Baker says that an expert agency’s strength and value comes from its having seen a client’s issue or situation many times before, recognizing the patterns, and knowing how to fix it.

In our case, working day in and day out focused solely on automotive and mobility supplier PR, our team of five senior professionals who work with clients have accumulated some 200,000 hours of experience in this niche sector. For the clients in this sector, that experience can be invaluable.

The expert agency also brings objectivity, which comes from its externality. Baker says that companies are in their own “jar” so to speak, so they can’t read the label.

The expert agency is outside the jar, so can be free of any internal biases, politics, or misconceptions.

Bottom line: Expertise and fit are far more meaningful metrics in evaluating PR firms than hourly rates.

Who would you trust more to perform your laser eye surgery, a generalist ophthalmologist who performs one laser surgery a month … or a specialist who performs these surgeries every day and has done thousands?

You’re going to trust the specialist.

Doesn’t your company’s reputation deserve the same level of expertise?

Author: Jim Bianchi

Jim is president and founder of Bianchi PR. He has more than 40 years of B2B PR experience in corporate and agency settings and specializes in the automotive and mobility sectors, having worked with several of the world’s top automotive suppliers, consultants and mobility tech start-ups.

You might also be interested in:

One Trackback

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>