Choosing a local PR agency to work with abroad can be difficult. You may choose an agency without knowing much about it, or you may have trouble comparing the ideas. All of the consultants seem nice so it’s hard to reject any agency. They all seem competent and experienced… So what should you follow – apart from your intuition – when choosing a local PR agency to work with? We share some tips and suggest criteria to take into account.
It’s time to choose your local partners. One of them should be a local PR agency, preferably based in the capital. We suggest what to look for.
From this post, you will learn:
- how to choose a local PR agency wisely
- what criteria are worth using
A portfolio will tell you a lot about what subject matter an agency will work efficiently in. But it doesn’t have to be treated as zero-sum: they know my business or don’t.
A good agency can translate its procedures to a similar subject matter, e.g. it will use its experience in handling mobile games to effectively promote a dating site. A PR firm that knows e-commerce will handle online payments. But an agency with experience in dealing with celebrities will not necessarily be successful in launching a new fintech.
One can venture to say that agencies that specialize in narrow fields will do well with general themes. But PR agencies that don’t specialize – will rely on specialized topics that require a lot of gymnastics.
Warsaw-based Profeina – a member of Enterie – specializes in serving clients from abroad who offer technology-based solutions. These are often young companies – start-ups and scale-ups whose main field of operation is eCommerce, green tech or fintech.
Profeina’s portfolio of organizations from abroad includes:
- Banqup (Belgium-based)
- BlaBlaCar (France-based)
- Clean Air Fund (US-based)
- Codecool (Hungary-based)
- EIT Jumpstarter (UE-based)
- LINK Mobility (Norway-based)
- Scaleway (France-based)
- Swappie (Finland-based)
- WorldRemit (UK-based)
- 7N (Denmark-based)
…not to mention several local-based companies and VCs – which might become very helpful when searching for the local funding partners.
2. Take a look at the results
Don’t be fooled. Local PR agencies can make use of their PR skills in their own case too. Be careful about the logos of media outlets or websites in presentations. Agencies may have managed to reach them once, and only because the news was really breaking. Any agency would have broken through in such circumstances, even if there had been a typo or two in the title of the email…
Unfortunately, sometimes PR agencies can also encapsulate NOTHING with visuals in such a way that you get the impression that they are responsible for launching Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft at the same time, while they were responsible for providing catering for a Google partner 3 years ago…
What is there to say, choosing a PR agency requires homework on your side as well. Sifting out the overrated ones. Selecting the competent ones.
How to check the results? The easiest way:
- by reading carefully and critically the results of PR campaigns, case studies published by a given agency; if an agency is proud to show its results – it means it has achieved them;
- by asking other clients about their experience of working with a given agency;
- asking for statistics of a client with a similar profile to yours and – if possible – verifying them.
3. Pricing: check carefully
“What’s cheap is expensive” – says a Polish proverb. This rule works not only when buying products, but also when buying services.
If an agency is able to go below average, then:
- it employs interns and juniors and you won’t be happy with the results,
- the staff is overworked because they are handling several clients at a time – and you won’t be happy with the results,
- it will be very rigid when you ask for anything beyond the scope of the cooperation defined and priced at the beginning – and not only will you not be happy with the results – you will be bitter about them,
- it only theoretically gives a low flat fee, but adds non-subscription services at every step.
On the other hand, you cannot automatically reject agencies with low prices. After all, it may happen that an agency wants to gain experience in your field and is able to come down heavily on a particular project. This can also be done in order to convince you and extend your cooperation in the future.
Expensive on the surface perhaps, but find out what scope is taken into account. Quotes from different agencies often don’t match.
- Some agencies want large subscription amounts (flat fees) – you buy an all-inclusive service and basically don’t pay extra for anything else. And others take little but will invoice you for every little thing (like an extra journalist pitch, arranging an interview or podcast appearance, translating or editing a short text on your request, etc.).
- Or it’s expensive, but you’ll have professionals working for you who have already cut their teeth in your field and at the same time have the competencies your company needs most.
But let’s not hide the fact that it can also be that expensive because it is expensive… That although the agency takes a lot – you will be served by interns and the service will not be worth the price.
Indeed, being guided solely by price leads nowhere. The price should always be weighed against other criteria.
Example prices in different countries:
4. Take a look at the team: is there chemistry?
If we don’t know anyone at the agency – check if and which people are presented on the website. What is their experience, and what is their specialization? How long have the agency’s most essential representatives been working there? If there is a high staff rotation – it is worth digging into the subject – either on your own or by openly asking about it. If the website is insufficient, use LinkedIn, which is popular among communication specialists in Poland.
On the other hand, it is not necessarily a good idea to be guided by the social activity of specific people from the agency, while not knowing examples of well-executed projects. Distinguish between the gift of self-promotion and the ability to diminish your own ego for the benefit of the client 🙂
Meet the PR team
It’s a good practice to ask about the team which will be assigned to your company during the pitching process. Many agencies put their best people out at the client solicitation stage. But after winning, they hand it over to inexperienced juniors or even interns. This may be effective business-wise for the agency, but it usually ends poorly for the client. So find out what it’s like at the agency you’re considering. Who specifically will be looking after you? Get to know these people beforehand. The agency might be reluctant to present the whole team at the very beginning (several business opportunities might be on the table), but may be partly at least. Find out if there is ‘chemistry’ between the two of you. If you aren’t the person directly overseeing the agency’s work, include a member of your staff at the quoting stage who will be responsible.
5. Location: most countries are centralised
It is usually better for your PR agency to operate in the highest concentration of media and relevant institutions for your brand. For most businesses this is the capital. The countries’ institutions are rather centralised. Most of the national media, institutions and business HQs are in the capital.
An exception? When your target groups are only in a specific area of the country e.g. you are doing PR for a new shopping center in Wrocław, it makes sense to have an agency from Lower Silesia. In other cases – in Poland choose the agency from Warsaw.
6. A key selection criterion: how long have clients worked with the agency?
Everyone will probably admit that the decisive criterion when choosing a PR agency should be the so-called ‘longevity’ of the agency’s clients.
After all, the actual test of the quality of an agency’s work and the satisfaction of its clients is the length of cooperation. Usually, clients sign cooperation agreements with agencies for 6-12 months. If an agency can boast about clients who have been with them for more than a year, or preferably two, three or even… several years – it simply means that clients are satisfied with its services. Moreover, this shows that the agency has been able to grow with the client, and adapt (!) to their changing needs. And that it has consistently, despite changing conditions and expectations, delivered.
Read our previous article to know how to enter Poland with your brand
The Polish Profeina agency has many clients who have been working with it for 2,3 or even 6 years:
- Norwegian LINK Mobility, (under SMSAPI brand in Poland) has been cooperating with Profeina since 2017
- Belgian Banqup has been working with Profeina project by project since 2019
- Czech Fleetcor has been working with Profeina since 2020
- French BlaBlaCar worked with Profeina for more than 3 years
- French Adopt un Mec cooperated with Profeina for 2 years
- Hungarian Codecool has been working with Profeina project by project for 2 years