Even though many industry experts claim there is a fine line between PR and marketing as disciplines, agencies providing PR as a service have seen a steady 30% growth rate over the past five years. This proves that public relations services are not only consistently sought after, but the competition among PR firms providing them is now fiercer than ever. To aid you in the quest of the right partner, we have ranked the best companies providing PR based on a detailed evaluation of relevant criteria, such as the services they offer, notable clients and reputation, company organization and communication skills, as well as value for money. Scroll past the table and the ranking methodology to discover a set of tips to help you shortlist and choose the right agency for your business.
To provide you with the most reliable information, we are meticulously following an extensive list of evaluation criteria. The methodology applied to the rankings seen here is comprised of thoroughly inspecting and assessing the variety and quality of the services the companies offer, their previous work and reputation, organization and communication skills, cooperation with clients, and pricing policy.
Here is a more detailed overview of the criteria we took into account.
While most of these companies aren’t limited by specificities of an industry, some PR agencies tend to offer services that are tailored for certain industries with diverging requirements and cultural considerations. For instance, some agencies specialize in the entertainment and music industry, while others offer services adjusted to the financial niche.
By the same token, agencies may also offer public relations services to companies of particular sizes; for example, small businesses only, or large enterprises mostly, or even single-person brands like celebrities and athletes.
Bear in mind that this first criterion doesn’t have a large effect on our rankings – it just helps us classify the top PR agencies in a more comprehensive way.
PR professionals and companies alike are only as good as the work they do. No matter how imaginative or emotional a campaign might be, if it doesn’t hit the right target audience, through the right channels—you’re better off without it.
The best results come from companies that provide a variety of PR services and give a holistic approach to integrating digital marketing services. This approach can also save you a lot of time and money. Below are some of the services we expect any reputable PR agency to offer.
Company reputation should be seen as an investment that will pay off in time. If you dedicate the time and effort to shape, maintain or improve your company’s reputation, you can expect quantifiable results that boost your market position. You will enjoy higher trust by current and potential customers alike, receive better treatment by the community, and be able to hire better talent. Also, the ventures you enter will be less risky for you and carrying higher profit margins if you hire the best public relations company you can to manage your reputation.
There are two types of reputation management:
PR specialists use various social media marketing tools and platforms to create a more human image of clients (especially large corporations). The benefit of using a top PR company in this regard is that it allows for two-way communication between the brand and the audience, as opposed to just talking to the audience in the form of printed media and TV ads without receiving any feedback. This agile approach also includes having the option of changing the course of action in due time and thus saving companies time and money while achieving the desired results.
As brands grow and expand on a national or international basis, they usually need assistance navigating the litigation and political conditions of new environments. That’s why PR firms are an important part of this process, as they help craft strategies for entering different locations, and information on how to lobby for certain changes. PR experts also help companies choose appropriate causes to support, and give back to the communities they serve.
In the age of digital marketing, the lines between public relations and marketing are blurred. That’s why a lot of PR professionals now help companies with finding brand ambassadors and creating advertisements for print and electronic distribution.
While event planning agencies exist separately, many leading public relations firms started in this field or expanded their services to include it. As event planners, PR specialists help secure venues, design the set-up, secure media coverage, and assist with product placement.
The quality of companies’ past work is a crucial criterion in our evaluation methodology. This way, we can ascertain whether the agencies we recommend have a proven track record of achieving great results for their clients. Additionally, we check the strategies and tactics that the public relations agencies have implemented to get those results. We extend our analysis to their planning capabilities and the ability to work through the strategic and creative processes.
We also gather information about the PR firms’ PR. In this regard, we consider the nature of peer referrals, company reviews in directories or on various social media platforms, the depth of company experience, as well as any issues and unsolved problems that have had a history of repeating.
For classification purposes, we also take into account each agency’s organization in terms of human resources, what each of them brings to the table, and how that may influence communication with clients. What we find important when curating the list of the best agencies is the internal culture and the level of creativity they have exhibited in their work.
When recommending PR agencies, it’s important for us to know how they plan to handle the workload of your particular project. Do they do the necessary research? If so, how they implement the research process? Do they create customized solutions? Are they able to address issues and change strategies mid-project?
This criterion is quite important in assessing each agency we consider listing here, as the implemented management methods affect the team’s level of creativity and, ultimately, quality of work.
Developing a productive and long-lasting relationship with a business partner means that you have a clear line of communication with the team continuously and when a problem arises. That’s why, when ranking the best PR agencies, we’ve also considered how often they communicate with clients, how good their customer support is, what’s their reporting system and frequency of reporting, and what information they include in their reports.
When ranking PR companies, we also take into account their pricing models and include those that fall within the industry standards. In that sense, the average price is a minimum of approximately $1,200 per month as a retainer, but you also need to add an hourly or performance-based rate which can go anywhere from $500 to $5,000 per month. We don’t include only the cheapest companies in our rankings but look for those that provide the best value for money to their clients.
Knowing what to look for in an agency of this kind will help you considerably when choosing the right one for you because you will know what to consider when doing your research and what to expect when you finally decide on a business partner. Conducting this kind of research can either make or break your campaigns, branding efforts, as well as establishing and maintaining a relationship with customers, so it’s crucial that you don’t skip it.
It’s always useful to have a clear picture of your goals and what they entail before shortlisting the top PR companies. The general business goal of every company is to develop, expand and grow, but that can’t be accomplished if you don’t have specific objectives in mind to achieve in a certain amount of time.
For example, when expanding to another market, one of the tasks to accomplish is to get your presence announced, get your brand noticed, and get your products or services presented to prospective buyers so that they are aware of yet another option to choose from.
The best PR firm for you should have the specific expertise to get you the results you need for your business. If you operate in an industry with specific requirements and business climate, you might need to partner up with a company that possesses the know-how to your specific niche. That way, you will ensure high ROI simply because the team in charge of the project will be able to foresee the specific challenges better, change the course of the campaign quicker, and diffuse a potentially problematic situation in a productive way that will secure a continuous project flow.
In case you need strictly public relations services only, your search for the best public relations agency will be clear-cut. However, these days, event planning or reputation management are not as simple as it may seem. For the company to easily execute such projects, they also need fresh and customized content, social media management, and other digital marketing techniques to back up the core PR activities.
Some PR agencies may possess extensive PR experience, but subpar digital marketing capabilities, making them unfit for your particular needs. Even though every agency states they can do everything, a check of the entire team’s qualifications will reveal how strong the agency is in areas other than traditional PR. Thus, when choosing the best PR agency for you, you need to make sure the team to be in charge of your project possesses the skillset you need.
Your target audience consists of your potential and existing customers. Your brand can only be built once you know who your product or services are designed for. A group of good PR professionals can play a big role here by creating a brand persona for your company and design a campaign according to those parameters. Being successful in this respect will promote business growth and help to refine the business goals set for your company.
No two PR firms—even those that are similar in size and services—are the same. What you get greatly depends on the team creating it, so the culture is important for more than just a good working relationship. It’s key to making sure the campaigns you conduct together achieve the desired goals.
With tools like email, videoconferencing, and instant messaging, it’s now easier than ever to communicate in real-time with people across the country and even the world. That means that you’re no longer limited to choosing the top PR firms in your city or even in your country.
Thus, when choosing an agency, it’s important to decide if you want someone located in the community you operate, especially if you’re a small business that operates in a specific city or region. This can benefit you greatly because hiring such a company means they will have local knowledge of the market and its target audience.
To summarize, when making your choice between different PR firms, you need to weigh your priorities against the choices in front of you. Do you hire an agency you can visit in person, or do you go with an agency with the best quality of work even if your lines on communication will be mostly virtual? One choice doesn’t have to exclude the other, but if either one clashes with your internal processes and threatens to disrupt the way your company functions, then the answer should be obvious.