This piece first appeared on PR Daily in October, 2015.

PR agencies are great for building brand awareness, analyzing their clients’ industries and boosting media relations efforts.

However, not every business relationship will run smoothly. Are you considering hiring a new PR agency? There are several things you should keep in mind, which will help you find a firm with the right fit for your organization.

Here are seven traits that excellent PR agencies possess:

1. Have good reputations

There are approximately 8,000 PR agencies in the Unites States alone. That means you have a lot of options. However, make sure to pick an agency with a good reputation.

That doesn’t mean you have to go with the biggest agency out there; even boutique companies can have a solid reputation. Eliminate any PR agencies that could take advantage of you or that don’t have a lot of experience behind them. When in doubt, ask other companies that have worked with the PR agencies you’re considering.

2. Get to know their clients

You should never work with a PR agency that takes a cookie cutter approach.

Any high-quality PR firm will want to spend time getting to know your business and your audience so the team can do their job as best as possible, whether you specialize in corporate training or gamification examples and tactics.

If they seem to only have commonplace approaches and try to rush through the getting-to-know-you phase of working with your company, find another agency.

3. Work well with others

You should only hire a PR agency that’s able to work well with others. There’s will be a lot of collaboration between your company and the PR agency, plus any partners you may be working with at the moment. Worthwhile brand/agency relationships are the ones that work together well.

4. Have active social media presences

There’s little value in hearing “yes” to every question you ask a PR agency during the vetting process. See if it can actually back its claim of expertise by checking out the firm’s blog and social media profiles.

If the agency’s team is offering industry insights and useful tips, they know what they’re doing. Great PR agencies aren’t afraid to give up some free information—they know that that’s the best way to show their expertise and attract clients.

5. Test knowledge of trends

Knowing the ins and outs of marketing and advertising means keeping up with trends and spotting new trends being formed.

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Make sure that any PR agency you choose is always up-to-date with the latest news and information. As soon as Google changes its algorithm or Facebook updates its privacy settings, your PR agency should know how to shift your campaign to adapt. The team should also know latest blogging trends and how to take advantage of popular news items or interest pieces.

6. Are well connected

Great PR agencies have impressive lists of connections. How much a PR agency can help you greatly depends on their own network of people and businesses. Find out if the PR agency you have your eye on has connections with industry leaders and journalists.

7. Are affordable

The best PR agency for your business won’t do a thing for you if you can’t afford them. Choose a realistic budget and then make sure to pick the best agency that can work well within those restraints.

Don’t be afraid to expect a lot from your relationship with your PR agency. If the agency you choose doesn’t come through on all the points that are important to you, it may be time to find a new one.

Remember that your company’s success largely depends on your PR agency.

Brigg Patten is a business and technology freelance writer. 

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