Thursday, September 02, 2004

Five Suggestions for Finding the Best PR or Marketing Partner

1) Get References: Find other law firms whose programs you admire and then call the Director of Marketing or the firm's Administrator and ask what company the firm uses. Get their feedback. Then narrow this list down to 4-5.

2) Create an RFQ (a request for qualifications): Contact the 5 agencies or consultants and explain to them what your firm wants to do. If they past muster on the phone, send them an RFQ. This should include a short list of questions requesting information on their skills, experience, expertise, etc. It can be done via email. Keep this short! The goal is to see if they have the basic qualifications for you to take the time to meet them. You may want to ask for referrals and samples. Many firms or consultants have capabilities packages ready to send immediately.

3) Meet the players: Narrow down the list from 5 to 3. Ask the 3 firms or consultants to come to your office. Ideally, the meetings should include you and one other decision maker. The goal of this meeting is meet the prospects, get a feeling for how they will fit within your corporate cultures, see if they understand the nature of your business and make sure they understand the sensitivities of legal marketing. Give them a chance to ask you questions. A good firm will be interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them.

4) Request a Proposal: After having met all 3 firms, you should have a pretty good idea which ones you would like to work with - ask the companies that you liked to write a proposal, (don't waste yours or anyone else's time by asking for a proposal from a company that you know you won't use). Be specific about what you need to see in the proposal. Remember, price is important, but it should not be the sole decision making criteria as you may not have provided enough information for them to understand your budget.

5) Meet the front-runner: Pick the firm that you would like to use. Before hiring them, have them come in to meet the Managing Partner and other important attorneys in the firm. It's important that this happens for two reasons; it allows the consultant or agency to know who they will be working with. If for some reason there doesn't seem to be a fit, it's best for everyone that it is discovered sooner rather than later. Second, it gives you one more change to ask questions you may not have discussed in round one and their reasoning for the strategies and tactics they present in the proposal.

The bottom-line is that you should hire a qualified consultant or agency that you can trust. Hiring a marketing or public relations consultant is just like hiring a law firm -- at the end of the day your hiring people (as opposed to buying a product). Being able to trust those people is essential -- you'll be leaning heavily on them to guide you safely through the process and deliver the expected results.

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