Questions to ask before hiring a PR agency

Whether you’re embarking on the PR journey for the first time or wanting to change your current PR consultants, it’s important to be clear about what you’re looking for in a PR agency and whether the one you’re considering will be able to meet these expectations.

To help you with your decision, here are eight questions you might like to consider asking before hiring a PR agency:

“What PR experience do you have in my industry?”

Although PR skills are transferable from one industry to another, having a PR agency with experience in your specific field might put you one step ahead in your PR campaign. For example, the agency might already have an understanding of your organisation or industry, have existing relationships with your target media and have a better idea of what PR tactics may or may not work.

“Who are some of your clients?”

When asking about the agency’s clients, consider the types of clients in terms of their size, field and how long they have used the agency for. Talk to some of its current or former clients and ask questions about the results and quality of service they’ve received, the value PR has added to their business and the type of relationship the agency formed with them.

“What media will you be contacting on my behalf?”

It is important to make sure that the PR agency knows the media relevant to your target audiences and has lots of experience liaising with journalists. Quizzing them about your target media will help you ascertain they have the right media contacts and know-how to get you the cut through your business needs.

“Who will be working on my account?”

Ask the agency to meet your account team prior to giving the PR program the go ahead. This will enable you to get to know them and determine if they are skilled and experienced to deliver the results you want.

“How will you measure success?”

Setting early expectations in regards to measurement and reporting of your PR program is essential. Ask the PR agency: what qualitative and quantitative measures will be used? How often will they be reported on? How will these results be delivered? How will I be receiving a copy of my media coverage?

“What level of involvement will you need from me?”

Although the purpose of PR isn’t to add extra responsibilities on your already heavy load of work, it can sometimes be a side effect due to an increase in information needed from the agency, meetings to be had, approvals required and media interviews for you to undertake. Remember that the ultimate aim is to increase the visibility and profile of your organisation.

“How will you be communicating with me?”

Ask the PR agency how often and what methods it will use to communicate with you (eg. phone, email, face-to-face meetings). Most importantly, find out how available the PR consultants will be to you and if there are restrictions on their working time (particularly if your organisation holds week night or weekend events).

“What are the terms of our contract together?”

How much will you be charged for what services? How flexible is the agency with the types of services it can provide? When will you be invoiced and what are the payment terms of the agreement? How long is the contract for? Will there be additional charges not included in the professional fee (ie. out of pocket expenses)? Will there be a handling fee on these expenses?

Here are only some of the questions you may like to ask. When hiring a PR agency it’s important to feel comfortable with your choice, as choosing the right consultants will have a great impact on the success of your PR strategies.


Catriona Pollard
BY Catriona Pollard ON 18 July 2013
Director, CP Communications, which provides specialist PR and social media strategies that achieve positive media coverage, increased brand awareness and improved sales results.