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Selecting a PR/IR Firm

At IGNITE Consulting, team members have led IR, PR and Marketing Communications departments inside companies and hired consulting firms from around the world. Here’s what we’d look for in a consulting firm:

  • Senior-level professionals.
    Innovative companies with hot technologies don’t have time to train and mentor consultants; your consultants should be mentoring you. You need seasoned professionals who can advise and support you at every turn. When you meet with prospective vendors, make sure you meet (and like) all of the folks who will be assigned to your account team.
  • A reputation for integrity.
    This is absolutely fundamental to your long-term success. Look for firms with a commitment to — and reputation for — unquestionable ethics.
  • A strong focus on relationships.
    Technology – no matter how dazzling – can only take you so far. True communications will always be grounded in trusted, credible relationships with people. Look for strong client relationships, solid testimonials and a rolodex of existing contacts with media, Wall Street and industry influencers. And yes, check for chemistry. You want more than an experienced vendor; you want a dedicated partner, who will care as much about your business as you do.
  • Strong business and financial acumen.
    Too often PR firms are weighted heavily on the creative side, with little practical knowledge of the market and capital requirements of your business. Firms that understand both IR and PR provide a complementary mix of financial acumen and creative execution that delivers maximum value.
  • A strong strategic orientation.
    Tactical firms are a dime a dozen. Look for strategists who can help you think through your challenges at a very high level. Look for people who have built similar programs on the inside and look at your business holistically when building a plan.
  • A full tool kit of capabilities.
    Make sure the team you choose has strong communications capabilities, from traditional marketing and PR to the latest and greatest social media. Evaluate your account team to make sure they have the all of the skills and abilities you need.
  • Passion and energy.
    Do they differentiate themselves? Have they taken the time to research your business? Are they proactive in suggesting new approaches to your communications? Do they follow up promptly to your questions and concerns? Is the person who is selling you also the person who will be working with you day to day?  If you see real energy in their pitch, chances are they will bring that same level of energy to your business.
  • Proven experience in your business or industry.
    This saves you valuable time and money and helps you to cut through the clutter of firms. Chances are your account team will already understand your industry, know your competitors, have ready access to key industry contacts and influencers, and understand the value drivers of your business. They can advise you on strategic positioning and readily partner with you to achieve your business objectives.
  • A proven track-record of success.
    Make sure they’re willing to be held accountable for delivering agreed-upon results. Take a look at the kinds of things they’ve done for other companies. Talk with current and former clients. Make sure they deliver on their promises.