Your company might have decided to outsource some of its marketing and PR projects, or perhaps even to outsource all of them. Choosing between traditional and digital PR firms can be an ordeal, but this article will focus on showing you how to select the best digital PR company.
Digital PR agencies primarily market through blogs and social media. However, selecting the right digital PR company requires you to look a lot further than surface level blogs and social profiles.
Since you are going to be investing a lot of time and resources into working with a potential agency, you should have plenty of questions to ask about their capabilities, experience and qualifications before you hire them.
This article covers the essential questions you must ask any digital PR company that you are thinking of hiring, and the types of answers that you should expect.
1. What Clients Have You Worked With in the Past?
A digital PR companies work with past clients will give you an accurate idea of what to expect with your working relationship and experience.
Past clients should showcase an agencies versatility within the industries that they help. Ask if the digital PR firm only specializes in certain types of industries and see if it fits in with the industry that you operate in.
When you engage with a potential digital PR company, you should politely ask for examples of work from their past clients. A solid company will even provide a list of references you can call.
Even the worst digital PR agencies will talk about how great their services are. However, what their past clients say about them should carry much more weight.
2. How Do You Define & Measure Success?
Success is the continuous realization of something worthy and meaningful. Defining success is essential before working with a digital PR agency.
More importantly, you and the digital PR company that you hire should agree on what success in your campaigns will look like. Sharing the same vision for success will ensure a healthy relationship in the long run that benefits all involved.
Asking this question will give you a good idea of how motivated the company is to serve you. It can also set an expectation of what the quality of work will be. How the digital PR agency measures success will also show how organized they are, or if they even care about your success enough to think of an answer!
3. Do You Offer Enough Solutions That Satisfy Our Needs?
When it comes to digital marketing and PR, there are several tools and solutions your business could need.
First, you should know what your own company is trying to accomplish.
Next, you should ask the digital PR companies that you are speaking with what they think you need.
Only then can you determine which agency is the right one for you.
After you outline the ideal digital PR service for you and your business, ask the agencies for some examples of their work for each category.
Remember, just because the company offers the service does not mean that they deliver quality work with that service.
Also if a digital PR agency has too many services, it could diminish the quality and creativity of any specific one. The best digital PR agencies provides the optimal amount of services for their clients without sacrificing quality.
4. What Does Your Creative Process Look Like?
One of the ways your company will differentiate itself is through uniqueness of your content and brand.
You and your competitors might offer the same products or services, or similar ones, so the company with a stronger relationship with its current and prospective customers will win. This all starts with the content, which is what the digital PR agency will help you develop.
Therefore, you should try and hire the digital PR company whose process of generating new content and ideas fits with the kind of creative solutions that you need.
What does each agencies content creation team look like?
How does they produce unique content?
What types of digital PR services are they offering?
What type of digital PR do you need?
A reliable digital PR firm is constantly staying up-to-date and knowledgeable on all the main digital marketing trends, and they should ideally be just as switched on to what your ideal customers love to consume as you and your team are.
5. Who Are the Key People We Would Engage With the Most From the Agency?
Although you are hiring a whole agency, it is equally important to understand the key stakeholders you will be working with.
Ultimately, you are investing a lot of time with a handful of team members from within any digital PR firm. So, you should try to meet them in the initial stages before work begins to check that you all get on.
The companies might have a single person working with you, or it could be a larger team. You must understand this team dynamic before hiring anyone or signing any contracts.
When you meet the main contact, you should assess if they synergize with your team.
Does the person’s energy match your company’s culture?
Are you confident this team member will help transform your brand?
This contact person should have a strong answer when addressing all the other digital PR questions in this article.
6. What Are Your Company’s Core Values?
An agencies core values say a lot about their teams character and work ethic.
This question will uncover critical information about a the companies identity. Make sure that you listen carefully and narrow your search to online PR companies that share the core values of your own business and team.
A healthy relationship starts with the alignment of morals.
So if you and the digital PR firm that you hire stand for the same principles, great things will happen in the long run.
Try asking yourself what an ideal relationship looks like, and then assess if you and the digital PR company you are speaking with have what it takes to achieve this synergy.
7. What Software & Tools Do You Use to Manage Projects?
Software and tools will be critical for productivity and efficiency in all of your future marketing projects.
Does the company have the funds to invest in and/or access to the valuable digital PR tools that you would love to use but simply can’t afford or justify?
Asking this question will reveal a lot about how the company communicates internally too.
When you ask this question, there should be transparency about how the agency operates. You should also know how they will be promoting your brand via these tools.
The company should also be flexible to your needs and adapt to your communication style.
Software and tools should help strengthen your relationship and meet your long-term goals, not add friction to the process and work being carried out.
8. How Often Will We Meet or Speak With You?
Most digital PR agencies will want and need to do a lot of creative work on their own, but how often will they be speaking with you?
As a potential client, you should have an opinion on what your future meeting schedule will entail. You can ask the agencies how they typically operate with clients and then agree on what your communication flow will entail.
As you discuss other digital PR questions like this one, it is also critical to understand what each meeting will look like.
You want to maximize your time each day. So any agency that you work with should have a clear plan and agenda for each session.
You can ask about what these engagements entail based on their work with past clients, and let them know how you and your team prefer to work with outside agencies and consultants.
Keep in mind though that more meetings does not equal more success, in fact it is usually the opposite!
Any decent agency will value their own time to, and wasting time replying to excessive client emails is in no one’s benefit.
9. How Long Should the Contract Be to Meet Our Business Goals?
Every meaningful goal is time-bound and has a reasonable deadline. The best way to address this is through contract negotiation.
The best SEO PR agencies will let potential clients know clearly what their contract terms look like, they will be sure to also let you know how you will make payment, and when you will need to make it.
Again, an agency not valuing their own time or work should always raise red flags. After all, if they don’t value their own how will they ever value yours?
Every client is different, so the best agencies will adapt contracts until they meet both of your specific needs.
When the agency addresses this question, you should feel like they treat you like a unique brand, and not every other client they’ve ever worked with.
Flexibility and clarity with the contract must be critical factors to evaluate.
10. What Does the Onboarding Process Look Like?
Knowing how the company onboards its clients is essential to understand.
If this is your company’s first time hiring an online PR firm, this should be one of the first things you ask.
Is the onboarding process straightforward?
When the agencies answers this, you should have a clear idea of how your relationship will begin should you go ahead.
You should also understand which of the systems and software you will need to use (if any).
You may need to create an account or receive special access to various applications that they intend to use.
Before you sign any contract, make sure that you understand the companies onboarding process.
11. How Does Your Company Keep Up to Date With SEO Trends & What Is Your Strategy Relating to This?
SEO is vital for your website traffic, visibility, and sales funnel.
All of the best digital PR companies will have a sound SEO strategy tailored toward your specific industry to compliment and support their outreach efforts.
The agency should communicate its SEO best practices, some of its strategies, and examples of past work when you ask this.
Keep in mind that they may not wish to take on your whole SEO strategy though, and many clients wouldn’t even want them to. They should have a sound understanding of SEO though, since the services that they are offering are so closely linked to it.
Equally important is the company’s commitment to studying the latest SEO trends. SEO is constantly changing, so the best digital PR agencies will have a passion for understanding and capitalizing on current and future SEO trends.
12. What Are Your Different Forms of Content Marketing?
Content is king when it comes to digital marketing. Remember, your brand will differentiate itself from other brands based on your ability to publish unique content.
The right SEO PR company will have a systematic process for building their content strategy. They will also have multiple methods of pushing out content to a diverse audience.
Not only should the content be tailored toward your industry, but it should also match up with your brand.
When you ask this question, you can also gauge how much the firm’s people have been paying attention to you.
Do they have a good idea of your brand story, and are you confident they can communicate this through content?
13. Do You Have Experience Creating & Building a Brand From Scratch?
A solid digital PR agency will have experience building brands from the ground up.
This question will tell a lot about the companies ability to accurately tell a brand story.
Brand storytelling is vital, especially if your company is now training to elevate awareness.
When you ask this question to the digital PR companies, they should be quick to offer examples of past work.
You should also have a good idea about their information-gathering process.
What types of questions will they ask you about your brand?
The ability to gather information will be critical in building a brand from scratch, and the agency you choose to work with should have a clear plan for this.
14. What Does Your Blogging System Look Like?
A company blog is an excellent SEO tool for your website.
A strong online PR firm will have the capability to create and manage a blog for you, should you need them to do so.
They should have a robust set of SEO practices, content development processes, and effective writers.
You should understand what your involvement with the blog will be, and what information will be needed from you for them to carry out their work effectively.
15. How Do You Engage Your Own Employees & Foster Creativity in the Workplace?
A digital PR company is only as good as its people and their creative abilities.
This question centers around the agencies culture, and seeks to understand what it is like to work there.
The working environment of the business will give you a good idea of how innovative it is.
Ask about how the company engages its employees, what it values when hiring team members, and how it fosters creativity.
Remember, the company’s culture should also align with your own.
A respectable online PR company will authentically elevate your brand when it shares the same cultural values as you.
There are also learning opportunities to gain here for the sake of your own company culture.
16. What Specific Performance Metrics Will You Analyze for our Business?
Data always tells a story, and this concept applies to marketing and online PR.
How will the digital PR agency track its performance and determine the effectiveness of a strategy?
The right agency will confidently list its most important key performance metrics, and how it uses the information for continuous improvement.
You should also understand how transparent the firm will be with you regarding this data.
There should always be open communication flows between you and the firm when it comes to measuring advertising effectiveness, reach, and return on investment.
17. Do You Have Any Samples of Your Work?
It cannot be stressed enough how valuable work samples are.
A digital PR agency can always talk a big game, but what do their results look like?
Does the agencies past work satisfy your quality standards?
Ask for samples from past clients who have similar goals as yourself.
Try to see samples of past work from clients in the same industry as yours also.
Final Wrap Up
As you can see, there are plenty of great questions to ask any digital PR company that you might wish to hire.
The best SEO PR agencies will make your brand stand out, and that means dedicating meaningful attention to you.
As you ask these questions, there is one important thing to watch for. It is not always about what the digital PR team says, but how they say it.
At the end of the day, they should be respectful, knowledgable and excited to work with you and your brand.