“I want to be on Oprah.”  Years ago, this was one of the most common phrases public relations executives heard from prospective and existing clients. Although “Oprah” is no longer on the air today, the requests for big-name hits continue. 

Each time the discussion turns to a particular “wish list” in a meeting, we respond with a question of our own: “Why do you want to see your organization there?” We don’t ask these questions because we can’t deliver those moments.  We’ve actually made plenty of those dreams come true throughout the past 20 years! Rather, we ask because it’s critical to understand our clients’ underlying objectives so we can help them impact the bottom line and achieve their goals.

It is clear that it is no longer enough just to get good media coverage.  Today’s communications and marketing professionals must show clear ROI and prove their efforts move the needle.

Working with a results-driven PR firm can make that happen, but selecting the right one can be challenging.  How do you identify the right partner that not only understands your company’s goals, but also knows how PR can help achieve them? Below are four suggestions for how to evaluate potential partners in 2017:

1.       Ask The Right Questions, And Give Honest Answers: Has the firm asked what success looks like for you?  Is it lead gen, increased sales, awareness?  Cookie-cutter solutions DO NOT work so it’s important that the firm understands the nuances of your short- and long-term goals. The more honest and upfront you are, the better the strategy your firm will develop. 

2.       Go Niche Or Go Home: Does the firm realize which audience you are trying to reach?  Is it c-suite decision-makers? Advertisers? Policymakers?  A well-defined strategy focuses on the outlets and publications your target audience reads, even if they’re not the most popular names or have the largest circulations. Targeting niche media that reaches specific buyers can often be more impactful in moving the needle.

3.       Proven Success And Creativity: Does the agency have a strong track record of success? Have they been tasked with similar objectives in the past?  Do they understand how to tackle challenges they might encounter and, when they do have a road block, do they think creatively to find another solution?

4.       It May Not be A Marriage, But It Is A Partnership: Is there chemistry? Your PR firm should be your partner and an extension of your in-house efforts.  If you can’t imagine sitting next to members of the firm on a long flight, they may not be the right fit.

Being on “Oprah” used to be considered success on its own. But as the focus on ROI only increases, make sure you seek out an agency that can help you meet your business objectives. After all, what’s the point of being on “Oprah” if you don’t leverage it to impact your bottom line, drive business development and achieve your goals?

Written by Amy Jaick, Executive Director of GMI Digital at Goodman Media. For more on how we think, click here.