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Now that spring is looming, how are your New Year’s resolutions holding up? With the earth renewing, perhaps spring is a better time to take a fresh look at what you doing, anyway. That is definitely the vibe we are getting here at éclat and CodeRed from our clients, many of whom are looking to expand into new territories in this year due to business growth and are looking for a PR agency in those regions. Therefore, we would like to share 5 tips to take into account when it comes to picking an international PR partner.
1. Are they specialists in my field?
Each PR agency will have a certain area of the market that they specialise in. This can range from B2C, FinTech, Investors, B2B technology – you name it and someone will specialise in it. So it is key to know what audience you are looking to target with your campaigns and messaging. There is no point in hiring an agency that specialises in the consumer sector if you are trying to reach a government audience. Here at éclat, and with our PR network CodeRed, we specialise in Cyber Security PR and pride ourselves in knowing the market inside-out and back-to-front. Make sure that the agencies you are looking at have a proven track record in your market, can demonstrate client references and a strong knowledge of the issues that are making headlines in the media.
2. Do they have the geographical reach you are looking for?
When you are investing into expanding your PR program into unchartered territories, you need to be confident that they can reach your target audience. We’ve had conversations in the past with companies that have said that they want to expand into the DACH region, or the Nordics, or even more broadly Eastern Europe. However, in reality it isn’t quite as simple as that. Under each region you will find numerous different countries, all with their own journalists, different issues making the headlines as well as speaking different languages and dialects. Take Africa as an example; are you only interested in the English speaking media or do you want to reach the French speaking as well? If so, does the agency have the capabilities to translate the materials and communicate with the journalists? Therefore check to make sure that they can cover all the different countries and localise the materials as necessary. By localising the content it increases the chance of media pick-up and demonstrates that you are committed to the region.
3. Co-ordination between agencies or repeat yourself like a parrot?
No-one likes to repeat themselves and if you are working with a number of different PR agencies then you can often find yourself saying the same thing over and over again. Combine this with the challenge of time differences and, for those companies headquartered in the US and working with EMEA-based agencies, it could be seen to be a management headache. Therefore it is worth looking into whether the PR agencies are a part of a network and, if so, you can appoint one as the ‘Lead Agency’ who can do all of the heavy lifting for you. They can be the ones to receive a brief from the client and then feedback to the other partners, plus share content, collateral and campaign ideas to ensure that there is a consistent message across all of the PR communications. You can also then rest assured that the agencies are capable of working alongside each other and will complement what the others are doing as it is likely that they will have a history of working for joint clients in this way.
4. Can they offer additional services to add value to your business?
If you are launching PR into a new region then we have often found that the company could also benefit from additional marketing services to support the activity further. Usually the company will have a sales person in the region and they are relying on assistance from HQ. As we have touched on before, localisation is key and having someone on-hand to provide guidance, advice and structure can be immensely valuable to the business operations in the region. It is therefore worthwhile to ask if the PR agency can offer supplementary services and consultancy to help get the business up and running. This could range from event support, website design and content creation, drafting whitepapers or blogs for the website, through to preparing a full marketing strategy to drive lead generation. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
5. Can they guarantee an ROI?
You want to be able to show that you got results from your investment, particularly if you need to justify your marketing spend to a board of directors or investors. Therefore it is worth understanding not only how the PR agency operates, for example are they proactive or just reactive, but also whether they can really deliver what they promise. The subject of demonstrating ROI has long been a subject for debate. Do you base it on Advertising Value Equivalent? Readership? How many hours the team spent on your account? At éclat, we adopt a shared risk-reward approach. This ensures at the end of the quarter you have tangible results that you can share throughout the company. Our Payment-By-Results (PBR) approach links a part of our remuneration to achieving pre-agreed targets for the quarter. This can range from setting up a certain number of media or analyst briefings, media coverage in tier one publications, byline placements through the increasing social media activity by X%. Our clients love this methodology as it not only forces them to think about what they want to achieve in the quarter but also guarantees them something demonstrable at the end. There is no point in investing in PR if you can’t show the value of the investment – so make sure you get the bang for your buck.