B L Ochman has an interesting post claiming that you don’t need to ask six to 20 questions as scores of blog posts claim (mine was Top ten ways not to chose a social media consultant), but you need to ask just two:
1) Do they walk the walk?
"If your key agency people are not participating as thought leaders in the space, should they be advising you?
They need street cred themselves."
Ed Nicholson, Director Tyson Corporate PR
Does the agency have a credible social media presence of its own and for how long? Personally I’ve been active in this space for more than seven years (more than 12 if you include Usenet, mailing lists, forums etc) and most people in the Wolfstar PR team also have impressive social media track records, as well as Wolfstar having its own presence.
2) Do they have case studies to share with you to demonstrate their success incorporating social media into clients’ overall marketing strategy?
As Ochman says ‘if they don’t, they’ll be learning on your dime.’
Good as these questions are I think a third one is essential.
3) Do they have excellent experience and expertise in traditional public relations?
Social media isn’t the be all and end all. It must integrate into the existing corporate communications strategy. Does your prospective consultancy have the experience and expertise to not only integrate, but also advise intelligently on how that strategy needs to change.
Ochman says ‘there are a handful of credible social media agencies and consultants on the planet’, but I’d argue that simply being a credible social media agency or consultant isn’t enough. First and foremost you’ve got to be a credible public relations person.