Written by Lucy Steadman • Published 13th August 2019 • 3 minute read

With August upon us, you may (already) be thinking about and budgeting for your 2020 PR plans. While the UK and Europe’s future political relations remain up in the air for now, your public relations don’t have to be the same, and if you’re a company operating in both the UK and EU, it’s important to think about how you’ll reach your various audiences through PR. As you plan for the year ahead, here’s my advice on how you should procure a European PR agency.

Have a clear brief

If you’re planning to bring on PR agencies for your European PR, it’s absolutely vital that you have a clear brief that summarises your goals, which territories you need covered and priorities, what activities you expect the agency to do day-to-day, your budget per month and your timelines for the pitch process and starting a contract. Creating a request for proposal (or RFP) is a great place to start with this, and reaching out to agencies with this RFP will prevent you having to answer the same questions over and over, ensuring the agencies can give you a relevant proposal that fits your needs. It’s also important to be clear on what your company can offer to press in each region. For example, if you want to do PR in Spain, do you have a senior spokesperson based in country? Or one who can speak Spanish fluently and is comfortable doing interviews with the press? These details will help agencies show you what will be realistically achievable.

Consider your budgets and scope

Before beginning a European PR campaign, it’s important to consider what budget you have, how you will split this across each territory and whether each country’s PR team will be required to do the same brief of work. For example, if you know that the UK, France and Germany are your most important markets, they should have the biggest chunks of the budget (and in turn different KPIs or a broader scope of work).

If your budgets are low, you may also be better off starting with two to three of your most important countries to begin with, rather than spreading the budget thin across six or seven regions. This will ensure you can achieve better results in the most important areas, rather than a few ‘okay’ pieces of coverage in many countries.

Coordinate or delegate

European PR can differ company to company, with some in-house PR managers choosing to oversee and manage their agencies across Europe themselves, while others will want one of the PR agencies to act as the hub agency that manages everyone and reports back to the client on behalf of the group. Think about which approach will work best for you and your company.

Hiring a coordination agency has many advantages, as it ensures you have an advocate on your team who can guarantee that every team is meeting their KPIs, keeping track of deadlines, and maintaining consistency across Europe. If you’re going down this route, be sure to ask your prospective agencies about how they would manage the coordination process should you work together to understand their usual approach and whether it’s right for you.

Global agency or partners

Finally, it’s important to decide if you want to work with an agency that has its own offices in multiple countries, or whether you’ll work with an independent agency that has strong agency partners in key territories. Some companies choose to appoint agencies with owned offices in different countries across Europe, as it means they only have to hire one, and these agencies are often large, household names.

That will work well for some, but it’s important to remember that each country’s office may have different strengths, so you should investigate this during any procurement process. Many companies choose to instead appoint independent agencies with great partner relationships, as these provide a boutique offering and generally will keep the pan-European PR costs down compared to larger agencies’ fees.

Ultimately the most important part of the tender process for your European PR is being transparent and clear about your expectations and goals for each country.

If you’re looking to appoint an agency for your European PR campaigns, do get in touch with The PHA Group to see how we can support your objectives and goals and to tell you more about our international partnership network.