I’ve sat in a lot of pitches over my career, possibly over 500! I’ve already suggested how I’d choose an agency if I were a client but maybe try this approach instead, or a mix of both.
I believe there are four key areas you should probe: market knowledge, creativity, strategic approach and the people who will really be on your team.
That means you need to do some homework, look around at the kinds of agencies that might be appropriate and make a shortlist of the most likely candidates. Then you need to ask them lots of questions. We recommend the following as a minimum:
1. What's the agency’s experience and expertise? Does it match what you need?
2. Does the agency understand your business' current situation and future direction?
3. Does the agency team take a creative and intelligent approach? Do you feel they'd give you honest advice?
4. Are its people effective communicators? Are client campaigns efficient, coordinated and targeted?
5. Does the agency have excellent understanding of both traditional PR and also digital PR?
6. Can the agency plan strategically and act tactically? Does it integrate with other marketing disciplines?
7. What's the agency’s track record? How long do clients and staff stay with the company?
8. Does it have a reputation for integrity and professionalism? Is it a member of the PRCA or the CIPR ?
9. Will its senior people be available to offer value-add consultancy?
10. Would you like to work with them?
I suggest you ask the last question first and perhaps save yourself a lot of time if the answer is ‘no’!