I liked Jay Baer’s thoughtful dose of tough love to the public relations community, “The 8 Wrong Questions PR Agencies Are Asking About Social Media.” In fact, I liked it so much that it inspired me to create a similar list of typical questions posed by prospective clients to the PR firms they may be looking to hire.
In my book, there are no stupid or wrong questions from prospective clients, and they should feel comfortable enough to ask anything, particularly if they haven’t worked with an agency before, or if they’ve had a less-than-positive experience with PR.
But some questions are more helpful than others. Here’s my list of some questions we’ve seen and heard posed by clients and others, along with some alternatives that might contribute more strongly to a constructive start for the relationship.
1. Possible question: How will you get me in The New York Times?
Better question: How do you plan to tell my story in the most compelling way?
2. Possible question: Will PR “move the needle” for my business?
Better question: What are the most appropriate ways to measure PR outcomes?
3. Possible question: How long until we see results?
Better question: What do you need to get a fast start for our campaign?
4. Possible question: Why are you different from every other PR agency/team?
Better question: Why are you particularly well qualified to represent our business/brand?
5. Possible question: Who are your best media contacts?
Better question: What will your media relations strategy be for my story?
6. Possible question: Is PR more cost-effective than advertising/direct marketing?
Better question: What can PR do to build my brand and/or my business?
7. Possible question: How do we get our video to go viral?
Better question: In your experience, what makes content shareable, and how can that be maximized?
8. Possible question: How do we compare to your other clients?
Better question: Is my budget sufficient to accomplish my goals?
9. Possible question: Why is it so hard to find competent PR agencies?
Better question: What makes a successful client-agency relationship?
10. Possible question: What is your most successful client campaign?
Better question: Can you tell me about any clients that have opportunities/challenges similar to ours?
11. Possible question: Can you make sure we’re never left out of a story?
Better question: How will you position us as a resource for media who cover our industry?