In order to communicate well, it is important that you define the story your organization wants to tell, your target and your goals. If this seems difficult to you, it is a good idea for you to hire a PR agency.
In the Cameroonian context, the profession is still poorly known to the general public. It is gradually entering a market dominated by marketing and advertising. The expertise of a public relations firm can help you achieve your business goals. Here we give you 3 criteria to choose your PR specialist:
1- Understand the PR profession and its challenges in Cameroon
As we said in this previous article, Public Relations (PR) are a set of techniques used by commercial or non-commercial organizations, in order to communicate to a well-defined audience, on a specific subject. The goal is therefore to create and maintain relationships with different stakeholders. PR acts on attitudes, opinions and behaviors, through the strategic management of relationships between an organization and its internal and external audiences. This requires having speeches adapted, precise, relevant, and persuasive to each audience that can positively or negatively impact the life of the organization.
In Cameroon, PRs need to create more of a new story, a positive image of organizations. We invite you to read the discussions with Santher Mbacham and Lionel Tousseu, PR professionals who highlight the importance of their industry.
2- Choose a 100% PR agency working in your industry
In Cameroon, PR expertise is often offered by marketing or communication agencies with generalist profiles. We advise you to favour an agency 100% Public Relations, because it will have developed over the course of its various missions, skills and especially dexterity.
After your first PR-only agency listing, choose an agency that has in-depth knowledge of your industry. In Public Relations, there is the term “relations” which is very important; an agency that has experience in your field, will have a well-stocked address book and will know how to call on it necessary to achieve your objectives. She will know how your market works, your stakeholders, your potential partners, your competitors and above all, the key messages that will allow your organization to truly stand out.
3- The PR agency itself
After you have made the choice of the PR agency that meets your need, it is time for you to monitor them. We advise you to check its reputation, references, communication, team, operation and costs.
- Reputation: nothing worse for an organization than being represented by a PR agency that has received a lot of bad buzz, or that has a bad reputation with the media, influencers, public opinion, etc. Do not hesitate to connect with people who have interacted with the agencies you have made on your list. The notoriety, image and reputation of your business are at stake.
- References: ask the agency for references and clients who have been active over the past 12 months. This will give you better indicators on its performance (the projects managed, the core business of customers and their good visibility). Do not hesitate to also ask for the results and key figures (the number of press reports in the most qualitative media for your sector and your audience; the number of shares on social networks; the number of visitors directed to your website thanks to UTM links; the quality of the experts contacted, etc.) according to your objectives. Remember that when it comes to PR, “what can’t be measured is worth zero”. If you have the opportunity, feel free to call these clients for more details on working with the agency.
- Communication: Is the agency’s communication effective and does it meet your standards? Each PR box has its own DNA when it comes to content creation (how does it communicate on the networks? What is the quality of these infographics, these photographs and these messages? On which social networks is it present? What is the quality of its website?) Which does not prevent it from having to be efficient on its external communication.
- The team: A fruitful agency-advertiser collaboration is built with a stable and available team. Emphasize the profile of the agency’s constitutive team: what are its functions? What are his specializations? What is his background? What is his “digital footprint like?” ? How does she do her personal branding? Ask to meet the people who will be dedicated to you before signing. Do you have a good first contact or a good chemistry as you work together? Are the dedicated people interns? If so, are they under the coordination of a communicator with an available senior profile who masters your ecosystem and your subjects? A good PR team is a team that will offer you the best solutions for your communication actions. The team should not allow you wonders, but real added value to your communication strength. She must quickly grasp your problem, your goals, be open-minded, have good interpersonal skills, and be innovative and creative.
- Operation: your operating method must be clarified and contractualized from the start to avoid unpleasant surprises. Each PR agency has its own rules and codes. It is essential to make sure that it meets your requirements. How often will you earn points? What are the approval stages and the agency’s room for maneuverer? How will your requests be made to the agency? The ideal would be to set up clear and precise briefs that will allow you to materialize your requests and to keep written records. Do not hesitate to do a simulation with the agency to learn about their working methods: “We want to launch a fundraiser, what communication will you put in place?”
- Costs: PR expertise comes at a price and should be included in your communications budget. In Cameroon, PR agencies do not communicate on their costs. The agency you have selected must send you a budget proposal; make sure you understand what is in it. These offers should ideally include radio, TV, print and digital. Also check the agency’s level of flexibility in terms of services and payments to meet your needs. Beware of tempting or advantageous rates. Some agencies will offer you low rates, which unfortunately will not allow you to achieve your goals. On the other hand, too, do not pay the high price for services that could be offered to you at a more advantageous cost in a more qualified agency. It is up to you to assess and prospect, because your reputation and your budget are at stake.
PR expertise takes time to get results. For example, if you are considering fundraising for an initiative, it would be a bit awkward to contact a PR agency three weeks before your project is complete. Although this agency has a very well-stocked address book and is one of the best in its field; unfortunately, it will not have enough time to understand your organization and increase its visibility to meet your challenges. So you risk ending up with disappointing results. So, think about including PR very quickly in your communication strategy.
Discover below, an infographic representing the technical skills and professional skills of a good public relations officer.