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What is an RFP? How to Find the Right PR Firm With a Request For Proposal

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You’re looking for a PR firm. Smart move. But now you find yourself wondering:

What is an RFP and what role does it play in my search?

Finding the right PR firm can be overwhelming. There are tons of agencies out there and hiring the wrong one can be disastrous for your business.

Although a PR firm won’t necessarily make or break your company’s bottom line, failure to find an agency that meets your needs and your budget can be a major blow to your marketing efforts.

You won’t find the PR firm that is the best fit for your company’s personality and experience by simply performing a Google search. You have to consider everything from a firm’s work experience to its company culture before making a decision to hire.

Request For Proposal Basics

What is an RFP and how can it help you find the right PR firm? An RFP is a request for proposal, a document used to solicit work from a third-party vendor. The RFP outlines what the company is looking for from the vendor and asks interested bidders to submit a document that explains their strengths, strategies and pricing.

An RFP can help filter out the most serious agencies. PR firms that lack the right skills, experience and capacity to help your business will not take the time to fill out the RFP, and those that do will clearly differentiate themselves within the proposals they submit.

When using an RFP for a PR agency search, it’s important to include the following:

  • Requirements: Set clear requirements from the beginning to ensure that responding agencies are good potential fits. Include the required and desired work experience you expect agencies to have, ranging from types of projects they have completed to the tools and resources they are proficient with.
  • Objectives: What are you hoping a PR agency will help you accomplish? Share some of the goals you hope to achieve through PR. Take this opportunity to outline company priorities.
  • Scope of services: What are your budget and timeline? Include these details in the RFP information here and outline the tasks your company plans to own in-house, as well as the ones the selected PR agency will own.
  • Timeline and steps: Include deadlines for proposal deliverables and a timeline for the selection process so agencies know what to expect throughout the process.

Take it Up a Notch

A lot of agencies will probably meet your basic requirements. Use the RFP to put them to the test, and weed out those that are the best fit. Ask the following questions to learn more about the work this agency would do for your company:

  • Ideas: If you were to hire this company now, what ideas would they bring to the table on day one? Request that all applicants submit three PR ideas for your company. This is a good way to get a glimpse into the way the agency operates and the type of projects they’re capable of executing.
  • The team: Who would be assigned to your account if you chose this agency? It’s important to ask upfront the type of talent you’ll be working with. Will you have access to the more experienced members of their staff? Will you work specifically with writers and designers? Knowing the makeup of your potential team can help you make a more educated decision.
  • Testimonials: Has this company worked with clients similar to you? Do they really understand the industry? What do previous clients have to say about their work? Ask for testimonials to find the PR team with the right experience.

What is an RFP? It is one of the most effective ways to find the best PR firm for your business. Without a formal document to request everything from team size to sample ideas, you might miss out on a major red flag with the company you choose to do business with. At the end of the day, your business’ reputation is in the hands of this agency, so it’s important to go the extra mile to find the PR firm that is the best fit for your company.