Picking the Right Agency
The decision has been made to hire a communications agency, but even after research and referrals, a confusing sea of names and initials often face a company or organization. It can be daunting for those not familiar with the industry or those who see it all as foreign territory. What’s the best way to proceed?
Let’s stipulate that the motivation for seeking a communications partner is sound, and there is some urgency. The business needs to grow. The organization wants to build awareness. The resources within are not equipped for the task at hand. There is no question that the right communications partner is invaluable.
After many years on both sides of the client/agency relationship, listening to the views of industry experts and reviewing the many online resources, I’ve come to a few conclusions.
In the end, it’s about the people. It is a relationship between you and the agency team that must click, like any successful relationship. And like a messy first date, it could get off on the wrong track. But there are some telltale signs that will indicate the potential for success. Here’s what to look for as you scout for the right partner:
- Is there passion for working with you? Everyone will say they want to work with you but notice the little things that say much more. Look for the tone of that initial call or meeting. Check out the follow up email for signs the agency is sincere in wanting your business. You don’t want to be just another client.
- Is there a cultural fit? There’s a lot to learn on the agency’s website, the team profiles, the LinkedIn pages and other ways to see inside. Are these people you want to spend time with and who will be an extension of your own organization? The answer should be yes.
- What is the agency’s plan for measuring results? Many campaigns or programs can be easily measured, while others are less defined. In this era of infinite data points, there is no end to what can be counted as results. Look for how the agency deals with this important topic and be prepared for a robust discussion. The time to define success is not six months down the road.
- Will the agency challenge you? In the end you are hiring an agency to accomplish your goals. A new website, a new social media presence, an enhanced reputation. But what about pushing you outside your comfort zone? Look for indications that the agency will do more than just take your direction.
As with any relationship, there will be ups and downs. But the right communications agency can bring tremendous energy and fresh ideas. The key is to make sure it’s the right fit between you and the agency team, since you are looking for a partnership, not just a name on the door.