If you're entering 2015 with the decision to develop a public relations strategy, you may be stuck wondering who exactly you want in charge of execution.

When it's time to outsource your public relations efforts, be sure to choose a PR agency that is right for your business. If you are devoting company resources to hiring an agency, you want to ensure they understand your business goals and make a solid contribution to overall profitability.

Here are a few questions to ask before committing:

1. What experience is under the agency's belt?

You will want to pay attention to media coverage the agency has earned for its clients. Don't be afraid to ask for national media samples and client references before you take the leap. When looking at a PR agency's experience, also be sure to note the industries it has worked with. Do they have contacts within your industry? Do they understand the technical aspects of what you do? This is especially important in B2B public relations, as the supply chains and manufacturing processes are often technical in nature.

2. Does the agency promote itself?

An agency should be devoting time to promoting its own services in the same manner you expect it to promote your business. If you are interested in bylined articles, look to see if an agency team member is regularly published in media outlets. Does the agency blog look like a ghost town, or is it consistently distributing content for readers?

3. Do they have ideas?

When you talk to a representative from the agency, is he or she making suggestions for innovative PR solutions? You want to choose an agency that will come to you with solid ideas when you feel stuck. You shouldn't hire an agency to simply complete small tasks as you assign them, but rather, to be a strategic partner who offers consistent expertise. After all, that is why you are hiring a professional.

4. Do you like the agency?

References, experience, technology, expertise - all of these things are vital when choosing a PR agency to promote your business. However, you can't downplay the importance of picking an agency that you actually like. Choose an agency that aligns with your company culture and hires people who you enjoy working with. To make the most of your public relations strategies, you will want to maintain a constant and consistent flow of communication. This is easier when you find that you can build a strong working relationship with the professionals handling your brand.

Hire an agency that is persistent and determined to garner coverage for your business and its executives. A PR agency should work as a strategic partner, committed to the success of your brand. If it is time to start talking to PR agencies, contact Ripley PR to find out how we can assist you in reaching company goals for 2015.

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