How To Choose The RIGHT Public Relations Vendor

eenyWhich Public Relations vendor has the best software/services?

This question comes up in some form or another with every client and potential client. When it comes to renewing contracts this question comes along as well, but the “pain of change” tends to keep many customers with their current provider even though there may be a better fit with a different vendor.

The real question they are asking me though is “Which software/services are going to help me meet my goals, within budget and with the least amount of effort on my part?”

The answer I give every single time is “It depends.”

Let me tell you that answer elicits one of two responses from customers and prospects:

1. Using their inside voice  with outside ticked off eyes “What the heck? I thought she knew this industry !”- These folks are the ones looking for a quick answer vs a long-term solution.

2. Using their outside voice “Depends on what?” – These folks are the ones who are looking beyond a quick answer and want to delve into the options to make an informed choice based on their unique needs.

 There Is No ‘One Size Fits All’ Solution

AwardO’Dwyer’s posted an article “PR Services Vendors Dissected in LinkedIn Bull Session” which dives into a LinkedIn thread where some very candid responses to the question, “Vocus vs Meltwater? – Anyone have experience with both? I would love to hear their alphas and deltas.” asked by Outreach and Engagement Coordinator, Communications and External Affairs at Data Quality Campaign, was posted.

The fact is everyone has different needs and everyone has different pain points. The comments posted are valuable advice for anyone who uses these types of solutions. Just remember that these are the experiences others have had – take time to evaluate on your own.

Choosing the Right Vendor for You

No matter where you are on the monitoring/measurement scale there are certain steps that should be followed when choosing a solution. This is a high level outline you can enhance and execute on your own or work with a consultant such as RMP Media Analysis to customize to your business needs.

1. Identify goals and objectives for the department/division.

2. Perform an internal audit of services and processes in use. Rate their efficacy.

3. Evaluate current contracts and fees to establish the current spend and timelines.

4. Conduct an executive audit to align items in #1 with those of the stakeholders and organization.

5. Identify vendors who list services and features that support outlined goals and objectives. Blogs such as this one can provide insight into available industry service offerings, read trad publications and review vendors websites. For example here is an introduction post to Traackr from our blog.

6. Establish a timetable to receive demonstrations and conduct your own trials of each vendor’s services.

7. Rate each service objectively employing the same criterion for each. Note key features that are unique to a vendor indicating how you might benefit from same.

8. Narrow your search down to the top 3 candidates and review those services again using different members of your team to provide feedback and ask more detailed questions.

9. Ensure a clear understanding of the support you will be given after you sign on to a) implement the service , b) transfer content to the service, c) manage your account and d) support your power users.

10. Use your network to solicit comments and input on their experiences with your top choices.

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