B2B PR agency team meeting to discuss and develop a client’s strategy.
July 11, 2023

6 Things to Look for in a B2B PR Agency

by Michael Brenner

Hiring a B2B PR agency means entrusting an outside organization to manage your brand’s reputation—the way you’re perceived by your customers, competitors, peers, and other key stakeholders in your industry.

This is a big deal! Not knowing what to look for in an agency or even worse, hiring the wrong agency, can spell out major consequences that could happen right in the public eye.

We’ve written this article to put your mind at ease. First, we’ll explore exactly what a good B2B PR agency does for its clients, then walk through 6 essential things to look for in the agencies you consider for your own company.

Quick Takeaways

  • B2B PR agencies handle the comprehensive management of your brand reputation and holistically oversee all external communication efforts.
  • Every quality agency will be able to prove their track record with client testimonials.
  • Seeking out an agency with compatible processes, communication styles, and culture is essential to a successful working relationship.
  • Your B2B PR agency should have a high focus on KPI reporting and clear, documented execution planning.
  • Finding an agency with crisis PR experience reduces risk in the case a public PR problem should occur.

What does a B2B PR agency do?

Public relations (PR) is generally defined as the proactive and comprehensive management of your brand reputation, which includes the oversight and strategic leveraging of all marketing, advertising, and communication efforts that your band executes.

In the B2B world, there is additional focus on managing relationships with other organizations (an often complex task given the number of people and opinions within each organization) and establishing the company as a thought leader in their space.

In addition, PR encompasses efforts to gain positive publicity for a brand, handling the external communications around new initiatives and launches, and managing crises when they arise.

Handling a B2B PR strategy requires specific expertise and experience, continual prioritization, and the right resources to execute. Many companies don’t have these resources in-house and so instead choose to outsource to a B2B PR agency to do it for them.

Outsourcing PR (or any key function) delivers powerful benefits like cost savings and efficiency, greater expertise and thus more effective strategies, and more time to focus on mission-critical activities that drive business growth.

These benefits, coupled with drivers like recent market volatility and the rise of new tools and technologies that require expertise and financial investment, have driven 60% of all companies to work with PR agencies (either exclusively or in addition to their in-house teams).

Nearly 60% of organizations now work with a PR agency, either as a standalone resource or in addition to in-house teams.

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In the next section, we’ll look more closely at 6 things to look for in potential B2B PR agencies you consider for your organization.

6 Things to Look For In a B2B PR Agency

Solid Track Record

In business—but especially in the B2B sector—reviews and testimonials make the world go ‘round. Any trustworthy B2B PR agency you consider should easily be able to provide you with a solid track record backed up by feedback from past and current clients.

As you vet potential providers on your own, look on their websites for client testimonials or case studies that demonstrate how they’ve delivered for clients in the past. If you can’t find this information publicly, ask the agency to provide it during your initial communication. Any B2B PR agency not able to provide this type of information is likely not one you want to consider.

Strong Understanding of Your Unique Brand

According to nearly two-thirds of B2B buyers, the number one reason they choose one vendor over others is because they show stronger knowledge of their company and its unique needs. 

 Bar chart shows that nearly two-thirds of B2B buyers choose vendors because they demonstrate a stronger knowledge of their company and its unique needs.

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As a potential client, don’t hesitate to look for the B2B PR agency that takes the time and makes the effort to show you they don’t have a singular way to execute quality PR, and instead develop strategies fit for each individual client and their needs and goals.

Compatible Culture

When you hire a B2B PR agency, you embark on an ongoing working relationship that will be critical to the success of your company. In fact, you’re entrusting the agency with your brand’s public reputation.

It is absolutely essential that some of the non-tangibles in business—things like communication styles, process preferences, values, and overall company culture—are aligned so your teams can work harmoniously and successfully together to execute your PR strategy.

Focus on Goals, KPIs, and Reporting

Agencies prove their value through performance reporting, or demonstrating how successful your strategy has been based on measurement of metrics and KPIs. Look for an agency that is glad to stay accountable in this way.

Be sure to ask them about their specific methods for and frequency of reporting so that you can be sure it aligns with the way you want to track and measure PR success.

Clear Execution Plans

The successful execution of any business strategy—B2B PR included—is a detailed, documented execution plan. Having a documented plan makes strategy actionable, keeps teams accountable, and helps you maintain visibility around your progress.

Look for a B2B agency that can both communicate a strong vision but also show you exactly how they’ll help you achieve it through specific actions.

Crisis Management Experience

No company ever wants a PR crisis to happen, but inevitably, they sometimes do. Especially in a digital world where every post, message, advertisement, response, and opinion can be shared and made viral, companies are dealing with more frequent and permanent PR faux pas than in the past.

Yet, according to a recent report, less than half of them have a crisis plan in place, putting them at risk of being unable to quickly address and quell an issue if it arises.

Not surprisingly, a much higher percentage of communications professionals who have been through crises say that they would both practice more in advance for such an event (84%), increase the number of tools they use to handle their PR crisis (78%), and increase the scope of their plan (72%).

Bar chart showing the results of a survey that found most communications professionals would, when it came to crisis management, practice more in advance, increase the use of communication tools, and increase the scope of their plan.

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One of the major benefits of hiring a B2B PR agency is having full confidence that, should a worst-case PR scenario occur, you have the right preparedness and expertise in place to handle it in the best way possible.

Final Thoughts

It is no small decision to entrust the reputation of your brand to an external organization. That’s why it’s critical you know what to look for in potential B2B PR agencies and can choose one that aligns seamlessly with your goals, needs, communication styles, and culture.

Using the traits we outlined above, you can vet potential B2B PR providers for your company with confidence and execute an ongoing PR plan that boosts your reputation, minimizes risk, and establishes your organization as a clear industry leader.

Michael Brenner is a keynote speaker, author and CEO of Marketing Insider Group. Michael has written hundreds of articles on sites such as Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Guardian and he speaks at dozens of leadership conferences each year covering topics such as marketing, leadership, technology and business strategy.