You sent out a Request for Proposal (RFP) and shortlisted some agencies to see if they are the right partner for you. But how do you make the right selection? Here are 10 questions you can consider asking potential IR agency partners to help you along before finally committing:

  1. What is your definition of success? With data so readily available these days and everything done online, deployment without measurement would be sheer blindness! Your agency partner has to be able to provide you with the best bang for your buck, i.e. the best ROI. The days of mere views, eyeballs and impressions are long gone! Welcome to engagement, clicks, shares, likes, comments etc. and better still: purchase, signups, downloads.

  2. Who will be the point person looking after our account? Many people overlook this, but you certainly want their best person assigned to your account. Look for balance, maturity, integrity, initiative, positivity, and hopefully someone who can speak and write well. What you are also looking out for is longevity. People come and go, but good agencies usually manage to retain talent better than the rest.

  3. In what way are you conducting your media monitoring? Do you make this available to your clients or provide them a daily clipping of relevant news? And do you assist with monitoring social media mentions? Do you actively engage with influencers, industry leaders, trendsetters etc. to find new ways of value-adding to your firm and your clients?

  4. What expertise and capabilities do you bring to the table? Good to know the strengths of the agency as some are stronger in financials, some in shareholder communications, crisis management, branding etc. Find the ones that best fit your objectives.

  5. How often can I or should I expect to see media coverage for my company? While coverage cannot be guaranteed, this question shouldn’t be left unanswered. Even though an agency may not give you an exact number of times you will be covered by the media on a monthly basis (afterall this isn’t advertising), they should at least provide you with a range of things they can do that will garner attention and/or engagement. If you are paying a monthly retainer, push for monthly coverage.

  6. What channels do you see us deploying and how can the content we create/produce be repurposed and leveraged for other purposes and channels? This gives you the opportunity to hear their pitch as to where they see your company heading and what strategies they have in mind to get you there.

  7. Will you be able to provide a table of fees so we can be aware of all costs from the very beginning?

  8. What kind and level of contacts do you have within our industry? Do you own any media yourself?

  9. Do you have other existing clients within our industry? If they have clients in the same industry, you have to then take a decision of whether you think there would be potential conflicts of interest. If so, this is the time to eliminate them from consideration.

  10. Why should we choose your agency or why would having us as your client be important to you. It may seem like a no-brainer initially, but either of these 2 questions can help you get a grasp of what differentiates one agency from another and what is their USP that will make you stand out from your competitors. (Hint: hungry agencies will work much harder for you)