From our founder: 5 questions to ask when hiring a boutique PR firm

[This post was written by 3Points principal Drew Mauck.]

At 3Points, we enjoy the process of developing new business and forging the professional relationships with clients necessary for kicking off and sustaining effective public relations.

Over the past eight years, we’ve won some great business, but like all boutique agencies, we’ve sometimes been passed over for the bigger brands because potential clients think bigger names feel like a safer choice. However, this is the wrong way to think about the process. When you’re evaluating a PR agency as a potential partner, you need to think first and foremost about fit.

If the fit between an agency and client is right, the agency’s “big name” status, or lack thereof, is irrelevant. If the fit is not right, it’s time for both parties to go in other directions. We are very willing to turn away business if the match doesn’t seem like a good fit for both parties, and we then direct that business towards a provider we think could be a better fit.

It can be difficult to determine fit prior to actually working together, but there are a few steps you can take to get a sense of whether a PR partner is right for you. Before choosing a firm to represent you, here are the major questions you should consider asking:

Have you worked with clients in our industry before?

Who will be running the account? What does their workload look like? How long have they been at the firm?

How does your agency set goals for the relationship? Do you practice client immersion?

One of the hallmarks of our firm is that we set goals with our clients every quarter, goals that are related to the client’s overarching business strategy. Another is that our team often works regularly on-site at clients’ offices. We believe that the more time we spend immersed in the client’s home environment, the more passion, chemistry, and great ideation we develop. After a few months, 3Points should feel like part of the team, not a siloed PR group that swoops in when there is something major happening. Our clients would recommend that you find a firm that implements these integration strategies — this is the type of firm you want to work with.

How are your fees determined?

Why have you suggested this specific length of engagement?

Equipped with these questions (and the answers you receive), you will be armed with clarity and perspective as you look to hire a boutique PR firm. Do not settle, and remember that finding the right match ultimately means developing mutual understanding and respect — a professional relationship — between you and your PR partner.

PR & Communications for Fintech & Chicago Tech. www.3ptscomm.com