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•• 5 Smart Questions to Ask the PR Firm You Inherit

January 13, 2014

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The PR/marketing world is no different than other industries — turnover means inheriting a team that wasn’t necessarily your selection.  But before you start off with a clean sweep or agency review, ask your team these questions:

1) What is one programming element you wish we were able to do last year?

Beyond the biggest successes, biggest setbacks — find out the big idea, program element or area of focus that was either cut from the budget or never brought to life.  If the idea was too pie-in-the-sky or not results-focused, the agency might be more interested in the good idea for ideas’ sake, not your brand.  If the program element was strategic and smart, it’s worth revisiting.

2) What do you think of my predecessor?

This gives you a lot of insight into their candor, loyalty and diplomacy.

3) If you were me, where would you be focusing your effort and budget?

Is it more on basic PR and marketing?  Do they identify an area outside their expertise?  Or is this an opportunity for a sell job?

4)  Where does our company fit in your roster of clients?

Understanding whether you’re the big fish in a small pond or a minnow among whales will give you insight into how hard the agency will work to retain your business.  But, if you are more than 80 percent of their bilings, why are other clients not using them?  There are good answers to those questions, but it makes sense to dig deeper.

5.  How do you work best with clients?

Does the answer focus on client communication?  Does it sell you on being present at every meeting and brainstorm (read: big billing)?  Does the answer mention results and strategy as a collaborative effort or a package you are purchasing?

In all, inherited firms can often be your biggest ally as you navigate a new position.  They want to keep the business, you need to know the land mines.  An agency that is well-integrated into your company can be a tremendous asset…and if nothing else, they’ll usually try hard to impress.

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