When you are appointing an agency, it is important that the chemistry between your team and the people who will be working with you is right. Without the right communication and understanding it will be much harder and less likely to turn into a successful venture.
There are many ways of assessing whether the culture and approach of a particular agency will “fit” with the culture of your own organisation. Think about your own company: Is it relaxed or more formal? Target driven or based on other principles? It’s important that you both feel comfortable and it may be that you need to find a company with similar culture or approach to you. Informal chemistry meetings are a useful way of narrowing down your pitch list.
You need to whittle your long list down to no more than three agencies to invite to a formal pitch at your office. The main trade associations in the marketing industry have pitching guidelines for clients such as the Joint Industry Guide to Agency Search, Selection and Relationship Management. This is an interactive web-based document aimed at advising clients on best practice when searching for and selecting agencies, and can be found on the organisations' websites.
Most important is that you should find out exactly who you will be working with. The people working on your account aren't necessarily going to be the same people who pitched to you, and this is often a bugbear with clients who have assumed – quite fairly – that they will be working with the pitch team.
Skills and abilities
As well as taking chemistry into account, you obviously need to be confident in the skills and abilities of the agency. Your choice will be between large multinational organisations, medium sized agencies, or small niche specialists.
Some argue that size is not as important a factor as you might imagine. They suggest that all large PR firms are actually collections of small teams. Furthermore what is crucial is that the firm can prove that its business-base is sound and that it will be alive and thriving for years to come. However, others argue that there is much to be said with working with a company of a similar size to yours. Approaching a large firm might seem like a good idea, but remember that you are unlikely to get the same level of attention as a big company or government department.