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September 17, 2009


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Julie Crabill

Excellent post, all of these questions will help you determine if the partner you are considering is the right one for you. One more worth asking: "tell me about a time you did something wildly creative that didn't work out quite as planned" - this will help you see how they work when it comes to big, crazy-ass ideas - and let you know that they can fail with style and get back up and try again.


Love this post, Mark! You are so spot on with these questions. Another good one to ask the PR team is "what do you need from us in order to be successful?" It's easy to make grandiose promises of what PR can do, and quite another to know what tools you need in order to make good on those promises once you're in the trenches. The hallmark of an expert PR team is their knowledge of what kind of news, statistics, trends and other facets of your business will lead to a successful launch.

Todd Defren

Good stuff, Mark. Funnily enough, at the agency we were recently shooting the breeze about the "tough questions" we often get asked in pitch situations.

These questions are good. (Another good one is, "Tell us about a client who you brought from startup to household-name status (in their industry)." This one can be a lil tricky in that many of the best startups get acquired before they achieve household-name status (as you know all too well!), but it can provoke a good dialogue.

Meanwhile we decided to create our own list and I'll share it with you once it's all done!


#6 should be how much employee turnover do you have?

Mark Johnson

@tdefren, I look forward to SHIFT's list of questions, since you have to go through the process.

One of the best questions that a friend suggested today was, "Have you ever fired a client?" which is related to Q3 on my list, but I think gets at the issue more precisely.

Davina K. Brewer

Mark- Good list of questions, thanks for sharing. A lot of these deal with successes, so I'd ask questions about failures: "Talk to me about your least successful campaign. What were the challenges, what did you change and how did you turn it around?"

An agency trying to win business is used to showcasing their wins; I'd also want to know how they handled mistakes/loses and if they learned from them.

Marisa Corser

This is an excellent post. Authenticity is king, and these questions will reveal a lot about a PR/marketing firm.

At Deeter Gallaher Group LLC, we pride ourselves on effectively sharing our clients' business stories with their target markets. We're good at it because we sincerely believe in our clients. Any firm you choose needs to be as passionate about your products and services as you are.

Tableau Condos

Great questions - I actually think #4 is more important than #5. What about asking how the firm would handle a major negatively spun situation?

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