A new survey of corporate communications, marketing and industry leaders reveals that 76% rely on word of mouth recommendations from their peers to find PR and other communications agencies. The survey was conducted by CommunicationsMatch in partnership with CommPRO.biz.
The survey also found 37% of respondents were planning to engage new agencies in 2017. Although respondents rarely expressed dissatisfaction with existing agencies, the survey shows the primary reason for hiring new firms was a need for new capabilities.
Where companies were looking to hire, the main focus was on digital skillsets. When selecting communications partners, the report also found that creativity, multi-disciplinary communications capabilities, reputation and specialized expertise were priorities.
The report highlights what respondents consider to be the most important communications capabilities to business success. More than nine out of 10 pointed to public relations, closely followed by digital marketing and social media. Traditional marketing followed in terms of its importance cited by eight out of 10 respondents. Digital (six out of 10) and traditional advertising (four out of 10) were lowest ranked.
The survey shows that Google and LinkedIn were used by 20% of respondents, alone or in combination with other resources as a means to find agencies. Associations, trade media and industry meetings being used as resources to find agencies by around 10% of respondents.
"Word of mouth is the principal tool for businesses to find the agencies they are looking for and other resources play a secondary supporting role," said Simon Erskine Locke, Founder & CEO of CommunicationsMatch. "The downside of asking peers is this may not surface many agencies with skillsets that would be a match for a company's needs, including smaller or diverse firms."
The survey found that around two-thirds of respondents didn't believe it was easy to find agencies. The third who specifically said it was difficult or somewhat difficult to find agencies, underscores the limitations of word of mouth as a resource.