It’s important to be methodical and thorough when looking for your fintech PR and communications partner. Can you think of them as a part of your extended team?

Finding a great partner to help steer and execute on your communications strategy is worth investing time. The ideal partner will be one that acts and feels like a valued member of your extended team – and is set up for long-term success.

Here are 10 important factors to keep in mind when evaluating a new agency:

1. Every agency will tell you they’re great…trust and verify
Every firm will put their best foot forward when looking to win your business. Ask for references for not only the firm in general, but specifically from accounts that work with your proposed account team. Consider speaking with a client to better understand if what the firm said the initial process would look like was actually the case. This will help you get a better sense of their strategic thinking, responsiveness and how well they interact and engage with their clients.

2. Access to leaders and experts
Make sure you understand who will play a role on your account and what their role will be. This may well vary depending on the size and nature of the firm. So focus on what they will do day to day rather than titles or reporting lines.

3. Find the right size for you
Figuring out the right size firm is important. Crucial questions include:
– What will your team look like?
– Does the agency have the access, reach and resources you need to get the job done?
– Will you have access to leadership? How often?

This is good ground to cover in your early discussions. At the end fo the day you will typically work with a team of 2 – 5 people, no matter how many people work at the firm. This has resulted in a shift from large to boutique firms in recent years.

4. How important will you be to the agency?
No doubt, the more you account for an agency’s revenue, the more important you are to them. But it’s not the only measure. They may be trying to build their position in the sector you operate or the account lead is very experienced and passionate about what you are trying to do. It’s not always a straight line between revenue share and “importance.” If you have concerns in this area, make sure to ask references or address it directly with the agency and make clear your expectations. If they want your business, then it will be clear what they need to do to keep it.

5. Make sure the firm you choose understands your domain/focus
It’s important to have wide-ranging conversations with the potential account leads to get a sense of how well they grasp, not only the tactical PR issues to be addressed, but also the bigger picture strategic issues that your business, industry and customers are facing. Ultimately what you are looking for is a communications advisor who will help you see beyond the obvious and identify your media opportunity.

6. Chemistry test
Life’s too short – work with people you gel with. Look not only for the firm/people that tick the boxes when it comes to expertise, resourcing and reputation, but how much you will enjoy interacting with the team on a regular basis. Invest time in getting to know the individuals, how they like to work, share your desires, and get a better understanding of what you will need to put in from a time standpoint in order to achieve the results you are expecting.

7. Will your partner speak the truth?
Candor is essential in a successful communications relationship. Watch for those that seem to offer the world upfront and say yes to everything. Look for those that lay out the realities and challenges of executing a successful fintech communications strategy. Try to get a better understanding of what your budget can actually achieve for you.

8. Transparency follows candor
The quickest way to sour a relationship is to feel like you’ve agreed to one thing, only to be invoiced beyond what you expected. So dig in around how the firm invoices for work. Present some likely scenarios that come to mind and assess how transparent they are in formulating the cost. Also make sure to understand what’s included and what’s extra when it comes to expenses and other costs.

9. Look to hire an extension of your team, not just an agency
A successful relationship takes work on both sides. Treat your new account people as you would any new team member. There’s always a ramp-up period and they will likely need more of your time up front to make sure they fully understand the business and how you like to work. Include them and share as much as you can in the general course of doing business. As a general rule, if it’s important for your team to know, at least consider how it might help your new communications team to do a better job for you.

10. Passion – the final test
Finally, does the team have passion for your organization, the opportunity that exists and how they can help you realize it? If they checked off the points in this list, then it’s a solid bet the passion is burning strong, they will work hard for you and enjoy your success almost as much as you do!

Feel free to reach out to us. We’d love to talk to you about how we like to partner with our clients.