Choosing a public relations agency to represent your financial services firm is an important decision that will have a lasting impact on your brand, reputation and future growth. There are endless factors and nuances to consider during this difficult process, but here are three recommendations to help you narrow your search to the best match…
Find A Specialist
In the highly regulated financial services industry, it is important to find a PR partner with a specialty in this space to guide you through the unique obstacles you will encounter. In comparison to a general PR agency, a finance-focused shop will have better insights into what your brand specifically needs to stand out in your industry, as well as stronger relationships with the reporters and publications you want to connect with, which means they are more likely to produce a steady stream of impactful media coverage. In years past it might have made sense to choose a local “generalist” firm over a distant niche firm, but technology now makes proximity a non-factor.
Make Sure They Practice What They Preach
You can quickly find out if a PR agency believes in their offering by looking at their own PR efforts. Do they have an active company blog? Does the company and its executives have a meaningful social media presence? Do they generate steady news coverage and recognition for their actions and achievements? If the answer to any of these is “no,” move on.
You have to think, “Why on earth would I want to take social media advice from a person with 50 Twitter followers?” and “Why should I take PR advice from someone who never talks to the media as an expert source?” If you are investing your time and money into bettering your brand, it only makes sense that your PR agency is doing the same.
Don’t Hire A Vendor, Hire A Partner
Your PR agency should be viewed as and respected in a similar hierarchy as your general counsel, where you go to them with your problems and they deliver the solutions you need. When you interview your prospective firms, make sure that you discuss how their team is structured and if it aligns with yours. Who is going to be giving and receiving strategic advice on both sides? Is there a middle manager, or is it the owner?
The PR firm you choose should be focused on telling you exactly what you need, not just asking you what you want. At the end of the day, you want to hire the agency that is dedicated to building a true strategic partnership with an emphasis on client experience, because when your PR agency is a working part of your team rather than just a vendor, they become invested in your overall business success, not just your PR success.
Brian Hart is the Founder & President at Flackable, an award-winning public relations agency representing financial and professional services brands nationwide. To learn more about Flackable, please visit flackable.com. Follow Brian on Twitter at @BrianHartPR.
This is an updated version of an article originally published on 7/30/15.