If you don’t take charge of your online reputation, other people will control it for you. That’s why it’s not surprising that many companies invest heavily in public relations and reputation management.
Consumers have greater access to information and much more options. As a business, you must be proactive about your brand’s image. Negligence may result in lost customers and a total loss of trust in your company — you’ll find it difficult to acquire new customers.
The Impact of Social Proof
A staggering 87% of consumers check reviews of a local business before they purchase, and 55% of all shoppers believe that these testimonials are useful, especially when they are buying from an unfamiliar brand. A few scathing reviews are enough to discourage a purchase.
Some types of businesses are more vulnerable to social proof than others. The top 10 industries whose reviews are checked are:
- Restaurants and Cafes (93%)
- Hotels and Bed and Breakfasts (90%)
- Medical Practices and Healthcare Facilities (89%)
- Automotive Services (87%)
- Fashion and Apparel Stores (87%)
- Dental Clinics (86%)
- Repair Shops (86%)
- Grocery Stores (85%)
- Beauty and Hair Salons (85%)
- Car Dealerships (81%)
With these figures, businesses can’t leave their reputation up to chance.
On top of that, brands also face the threat of cancel culture or losing the support of their customers and being ostracized because of the brand’s statement or operations.
The choice of PR agency, therefore, is an important business decision. The abilities of your PR team will affect your ROI, your company’s reputation, and customer loyalty. Here are four things to look for when you’re choosing a PR agency.
Excellent Track Record
You wouldn’t want an agency whose clients have a bad rep; this simply means they are not doing their job well. As much as possible, choose an agency with a sterling record — a firm that has shown effective crisis management. Or better yet, a firm with clients who seemingly have no crises at all.
Ask for case studies from different agencies to get a feel for their level of experience and ability to produce results. You can also ask for samples of clips that the agency has secured in publications. If their clients have a long list of awards, it’s a good sign that the agency is hard at work behind the scenes. A glittering social media reputation also indicates that the PR agency is well-versed in online reputation management.
Research the relative authority of the agency in the PR industry, too. It’s best to work with thought leaders and seasoned firms.
Bear in mind that success looks different for different brands. Ask the agency how they plan to measure progress and success. On top of that, how often will they produce reports about your brand’s media coverage?
The PR agency must have direct experience in dealing with customers in your market. This applies to businesses with a huge customer base, as well as companies answering a niche need. Industry expertise enables the agency to produce results quickly.
For instance, if you are a tech start-up, veer away from entertainment-focused firms. Their experience is in marketing a good time to people who are looking for leisure. You, on the other hand, are marketing productivity to people who are looking for efficiency.
Moreover, specialization allows the firm to understand your offers quickly. For example, an ICO PR agency understands the cryptocurrency market better than anyone else. They know how to approach people with a breadth of knowledge in digital currency. They are also updated in regulations surrounding crypto. The cryptocurrency landscape evolves at break-neck speed, but a specialized PR agency is one step ahead.
Connections Are Important
Specialized PR agencies have the advantage of rich media connections. The firm likely has relationships with reporters and writers at publications where you want to be featured. An ICO PR agency, for instance, has contacts from finance magazines, investment blogs, money influencers, and other related media outlets.
After all, savvy firms put quality over quantity. They won’t simply share your work with every media outlet possible. Instead, they will work with a selected few whose readership includes your target audience. The same goes for interviews. A good PR agency would rather secure a handful of meaningful and in-depth interviews than pitch to every media outlet.
The search for a good PR agency requires a significant amount of time and effort. However, once you found an excellent firm — a specialized agency with rich connections and a stellar record — expect a sterling reputation for your company.