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Seven Signs You Should Fire Your PR Agency

The AMA Recap: PR & Pitching

KPIs? Never heard of them. Transparency? What's that? Team churn? Just part of working with a PR agency. 

If any of this sounds familiar, it might time to fire your PR agency. However, understanding when it's time to switch up your agency is rarely ever this cut and dry — it's often much less obvious. 

Our CEO Beck Bamberger authored an article last month in AdAge to help company’s recognize when their current agency might not be the best fit for their company. Check out the seven red flags she highlighted below:

1. Yes, Yes, Yes.

If your agency agrees to everything, without question (especially when you might be on the fence about a decision) it could be time to switch up agencies. One of the core tenants of a strong agency/client relationship is the ability to provide real-time, constructive, and diplomatic feedback. Remember: You’re paying your agency to provide consultancy, not simple tactical execution.

2. Show me the KPIs!

PR can help top of the funnel lead generation, but it should never be a company’s core sales strategy. With that said, you CAN and SHOULD expect your PR agency to measure success against agreed-upon KPIs. If you can’t remember the last time you saw a key performance indicator, it might be time to start looking for another agency.   

3. Status quo.

One of the key benefits of hiring an agency is access to its suite of services and tools. If your agency’s only way to measure success is through manual tracking of coverage volume, or if they don’t have access to industry data to inform PR strategy, they’re likely unable to move the needle for you. Remaining complacent, when there are so many innovative tools and offerings available to amplify your PR program, is a surefire sign you should consider letting your agency go.   

4. Diversity is lacking.

Agency diversity — or lack thereof — is an industry-wide problem. The PR Industry is currently 87.9% White, 8.3% African-American, 5.7% Hispanic-American, and 2.6% Asian-American. This needs to change, and agencies have a responsibility to drive this change.

Take a close look at your agency’s entire team and ask yourself, is their diversity at every level? If not, is your agency taking steps to change that? If you answered no, is the type of agency you want as a partner?

5. High turnover.

An agency that periodically switches up your core team, to give your campaign fresh insight, shows proactivity and is a good sign. However, if your core day-to-day team has changed several times in one year, with no explanation, it could point to a troubling agency trend. High turnover at an agency can be a sign of a toxic workplace, which means you should proceed with caution.

6. Feedback loop has stalled.

You might have a handle on media interviews, and have top-notch in-house writers, but if your agency says every interview you do is ‘great’ and every byline you write is ‘flawless,' this is a red flag. This shows a lack of thoughtfulness and creativity on behalf of the agency, and likely means they’re skimping on time and attention.

7. Zero growth.

When you hired your agency, you were starting at square one. At first, the service your agency offered was just what you needed. Today, though, you’ve expanded your marketing team and have a budget to expand your PR program. The problem? Your agency hasn’t expanded with you. If your agency — or their partner agencies — are unable to provide the support you need, it might be time to part ways. 

The strongest agency-partner relationships are built on transparency and trust. In isolation, many of the red flags above can be immediately addressed and corrected. However, if you find yourself relating to three or more of these issues, it’s likely time to find a new agency partner. 

How have you addressed challenges with your agency partners? Any other red flags to share? Let us know in the comments below.


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