December 13, 2022

Three reasons why it’s time to switch PR agencies

Communications, Digital Marketing, Public relations, Publicity, Strategy

Length: 10-minute read

Quick summary: Your public relations agency should be an extension of your business, aligned to achieving its goals and desired outcomes. However, if you’re finding these aren’t being achieved, there are three warning signs that indicate it might be time to start looking for another agency.

The three signs to switch PR agencies

Engaging in different public relations (PR) activities can deliver a lot of potential for your business. For example, press releases and news announcements can improve your organisation’s brand recognition in the market. Additionally, executive profiling opportunities and thought leadership articles with your spokespeople can demonstrate the expertise and depth of knowledge your company has to offer. Case studies and awards can prove the success of your business, its teams, and its products and services.

However, the success of these activities and achieving optimal outcomes ultimately lies with your PR agency.

Most agencies will work towards very similar outcomes for clients, so it can be easy to think that any agency is the right fit for your business and will deliver the same results. However, different PR agencies often have different operational approaches, all of which can affect the success of your campaigns. For example, some agencies may prefer to focus more efforts on one approach to PR content, preferring only to focus on pitching press releases and articles to a wide array of target media, rather than coupling it with a more targeted approach that prioritises building trusted relationships with media.

You may also find that some agencies prefer clients to provide direction and topic ideas to ensure they are on the right track, while others may prefer to be more proactive and fluid to be able to respond to the rapidly changing news cycle.

There are also PR agencies that specialise in certain areas, industries, and market segments. For example, Recognition PR is a specialist business-to-business (B2B) PR agency that focuses on servicing small-to-enterprise technology companies across information communication technology (ICT), financial services, telecommunications, cybersecurity, space, and defence sectors. However, Write Away Communication, its sister PR agency within The Recognition Group, specialises in servicing clients in the built environment, focusing on building, construction and design, engineering and industrial solutions, consumer technology, and home and interiors.  Some also offer content marketing and omnichannel marketing services integrated with their PR offerings.

It’s essential to work with an agency that aligns with your business across both industry and objectives to achieve the best possible outcomes. But how do you know if the agency will be the right one for you before you start working together?

This can be difficult to pinpoint ahead of starting your relationship with an agency, especially if it checks all the boxes on paper during the proposal and tender stage. Likely, it won’t be until you’ve been working with your agency for a while that you notice perhaps it wasn’t the right choice after all, and the expectations and results you were looking for just aren’t being achieved.

It’s important to understand that, like any supplier, an agency isn’t forever. So, if your current one isn’t working out, maybe it’s time to make the switch to a new PR partner?

There are three signs in particular to look out for:

  1. Poor outcomes.

  2. Lack of productivity and proactivity.

  3. High staff turnover and low levels of experience.

1. Your PR agency’s activities are going poorly and aren’t achieving desired outcomes 

When your business invests in a PR agency, it’s more than reasonable to assume their expertise and knowledge will help to deliver successful outcomes. One of the biggest indicators that your PR agency isn’t working out is the failure to deliver the value that you’re seeking.

Many factors could be at play here, including new campaigns, media relations, the news cycle, a slowdown of business news, and trialling new and different activities. There could also be factors in your PR team that are causing these sub-optimal outcomes, such as capacity issues and industry inexperience.

It’s important to carefully review your agency’s regular monthly reports to ensure you understand how your overall campaign is tracking and where your investment is being spent.

However, if you have already tried to circumvent this by discussing concerns with your public relations team, and have seen little to no improvement, this is an indicator that it may be time to move agencies.

2. Your PR agency lacks productivity and proactivity

PR agencies should be expert communicators; this is their bread-and-butter, after all. Agencies communicate all day, every day with the media, clients, and other third parties to achieve outcomes. Through their communication skills, the agency and your PR team especially should be able to prove to you without a doubt that they are experts in this field.

Do you feel confident that your agency has a high level of communication with you?

Some indicators that show your agency is lacking in productivity include if your team is:

  • constantly dropping the ball on deadlines
  • sharing coverage and opportunities with you days late
  • taking days to respond to your emails and calls
  • not providing frequent updates on activities, either via emails or frequent calls to check in.

While your PR agency should be working collaboratively with your team to promote your news and updates, they should also be regularly pitching you new content ideas, activities, and opportunities, and challenging your thinking. If you find that your agency is relying heavily on your business for these ideas, or they are suggesting ideas that just don’t fit with your business, its goals, or KPIs, then it’s time to consider what other agencies can offer you instead.

3. There is high staff turnover and low levels of experience at your PR agency

Turnover at any workplace is normal; however, high levels of this is a red flag. High levels of employee turnover cause disruptions to teams, client accounts, and the delivery of campaigns. When agencies are constantly bringing new members up to speed on accounts, the results for the client tend to wane while the new team member becomes comfortable with the account.

Furthermore, high team turnover can also mean that accounts are left with junior staff members who don’t yet have the industry knowledge or experience required to deliver the results you need. It takes years for PR consultants to build up their skills in a particular field, including knowing the industry landscape, terminology, and relevant media. It takes even longer for them to hone the skills needed (such as media releases that cut through) to compile effective PR strategies carefully tailored to each client that will deliver successful outcomes.

You should always feel confident that your PR team has the experience needed to achieve results. If this is starting to wane, or if your team has changed multiple times over the year due to a high number of people leaving the business, this is another indicator that it’s time to change agencies.

However, when it comes to selecting a new PR partner, it can be just as challenging. How do you know your new one won’t let you down as the previous one had?

One of the biggest things to look for in an agency is the depth of experience, particularly in your sector, that demonstrates they can deliver to support your business. It’s especially important for organisations in the B2B sector to look for an agency that complements them. Businesses that offer complex, specialised solutions and products that service a specific or niche industry should be looking for equally specialised agencies that will understand the ins and outs of your business and achieve desired results.

Although generalist firms can be exciting and full of buzz, boasting of working with big-name clients, often you’ll find that these agencies cater to consumer brands and their team members will not always understand the specific skillset required to speak to high-value, B2B customers. For B2B technology or professional services firms, it is much more effective to work with an agency that specialises in your sector. Read our blog on the three things you should consider when it comes to hiring a B2B IT PR agency for more information.

Recognition PR has been delivering high value PR programs for B2B clients since 1985. It’s supported by a team of highly experienced B2B PR professionals that understand the structure, spectrum, and nuances of ICT clients across specialised sectors.   



Contact our team today