I would suggest one highly specific priority when choosing a PR agency.
I would closely examine the agency team — and look for one type of person in particular. However big or small your suggested account team is, there will always be that one person who will be driving your account forward.
When in “sales mode”, it’s not uncommon for PR agencies to front some of their best and most senior people. While these resources might be great to have access to, they probably won’t be doing the everyday grudge work for you. Nor would you want them to; their hourly rates are far too steep.
You will also most likely be introduced to a senior account manager who would serve as your main point-of-contact. This is the second most important role in any team setup, but it often isn’t the most important. In most cases, there will be a slightly younger man or woman on the account. Not a junior, but not by far a senior, either. They might have 2–5 years of PR experience — and they should be quite ambitious.
The mid-level consultant on your account team will probably be the person who writes the first drafts of everything that later ends up on your desk. They make the first or second drafts of all agendas, reports, presentations. They probable also get in touch with most journalists and influencers on your behalf.
In the PR agency account team, they are often the ones with the most to gain. Junior consultants are still learning the ropes while more senior consultants have already proven themselves. Some of these mid-level consultants are PR rockstars who can’t wait to get their first prestigious account.
While your senior account manager might be responsible for several accounts, the mid-level consultant on your team might just be fighting to get his or her first account. Getting a mid-level PR rockstar looking to “make their mark” by using your brand as a career springboard is a surefire way of getting them most bang for the buck.
So, in any PR pitch, look for a mid-level PR rockstar with something to prove.