How finding the right PR firm is like dating

The owner of a PR firm shares nine indicators of a bad match between a PR team and a client—signs that people in the dating world should always heed.

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It’s easy to be dazzled by flash and dash, or baffled by a surfeit of choices. The pitch meeting is a little like a first date—everyone is on his or her best behavior. As a result, it’s hard to spot the red flags. But they are there. Here’s my list of signs that could signal a bad match between a PR team and a client.

1. Amazing chemistry. You should feel good about your agency team, but beware the too-dazzling first impression. I have a friend at an agency search firm who warns clients against the “chemistry test.” What she means is, don’t be seduced by charm. Look for compatibility instead.

2. You’re from different worlds. Let’s say the agency team is ultra-hip, and your brand isn’t. Don’t count on becoming cool by association. It’s more likely that the union will end prematurely. This is where cultural compatibility (which is not to be confused with chemistry) comes in. A fast-moving, high-energy entrepreneur probably won’t be happy with a large, bureaucratic firm, and vice versa. What bodes well for the future is a comfortable cultural fit.

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