Many companies rely on the support of PR agencies for their corporate communications. Finding the right PR agency is not easy. With our comparison of PR agencies, we give you some guidance on what to look for when choosing a PR agency and introduce you to 11 agencies. You can download a summary of the comparison here:
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PR agencies: broad range of services, deep understanding of customer issues
PR agencies have a broad range of services. They help their clients communicate with their stakeholders, in many cases they even orchestrate it. PR agencies are text workbenches, points of contact with media representatives, sparring partners, consultants and not infrequently firefighters who stand by their clients in crises.
But the tasks for PR agencies have changed considerably in recent years. It is no longer just a matter of press relations, which is their original task. Rather, they are increasingly advising on all published content of a company, be it the blog post on the corporate website or critical comments under social media posts the customer.
Unlike specialized content marketing agencies, they are proficient in both owned media and earned media disciplines. The toolbox is therefore more broadly equipped, although often less specialized.
In PR agencies, companies find partners who cover many disciplines in the marketing and communications mix and who are very deeply involved with the client’s topics and products/services.
Only a few agencies show us more details
In the current market overview, a total of 11 PR agencies are analyzed and compared in terms of their range of services. Not all agencies are transparent about the way they work, and not many are willing to be compared in the level of detail that you as a reader have come to expect from us. This can be seen in the return rate. We asked over 150 PR agencies based in Germany for information, only 11 provided it. Some gave us feedback that they found the comparison interesting, but did not want to provide such detailed information. Too bad. Therefore, our thanks go to the participants who confidently provide more transparency in this market.
Of course, the comparison does not claim to cover the entire agency market; after all, there are many service providers. Of these, the large network agencies are well-known and easy to identify. Our agency comparison is therefore more about the medium-sized specialists as well as an orientation aid, according to which you can select your suitable agency partner. Because, as is often the case, there is an individually suitable service provider for every task.
|Agency name||Head office||Number of permanent employees||Number of freelancers||Number of customers||Turnover in the past year|
|BEiL² Die PR-Strategen||Hamburg||19||5||40||1.100.000 EUR|
|Drunk Octopus Communications||Cologne||7||1||13||650.000 EUR|
|.FACTUM – Ehrliche Kommunikation||Munich||10||22||N/A|
|KREOS Reputation & PR||Düsseldorf & Mettmann||15||4||52||5.500.000 EUR|
|Lucy Turpin Communications||Munich||11||N/A|
|Maisberger||Munich & Bremen||45||1||42||3.800.000 EUR|
|Press’n’Relations||Ulm, Berlin, Munich, Wien (A), Zürich (CH)||15||124||1.430.000 EUR|
|Sympra||Stuttgart, Offices in Munich and Berlin||15||4||25||1.500.000 EUR|
|WORDUP PR||Munich||6||4||10||400.000 EUR|
Transformation of PR agencies noticeable
The huge success of owned media channels is not bypassing traditional communications service providers. Admittedly, the large network agencies were somewhat faster in expanding their value chain in the direction of content marketing, but the smaller agencies have followed suit. Away from pure media work to service providers for – almost – all areas of corporate communications.
Here’s how we went about comparing PR agencies
The comparison is based on more than 130 criteria, which we have assigned to 15 different categories. The individual categories present the various service providers in detail, examine the different competencies and offerings, and describe other relevant criteria. The extensive catalog of criteria was developed and reflected upon in advance with industry experts and editors. The criteria are always derived from the perspective of a decision-maker who wants to make a selection.
The categories of the market overview
- General Information: When selecting an agency, the following basic information will help you get to know the companies. How long have they been in the market? Where are they located? How many permanent employees do they employ and to what extent do they rely on freelancers?
- Unique Selling Propositions: Our list of criteria is long. This provides an opportunity for agencies to present the different assets of their agency in detail for you. In contrast to this level of detail, the Unique Selling Proposition aims to condense the service offering into a few words. You will find this condensate in the form of the pitch on the following pages. We asked the providers to formulate it to the point in just a few words. What makes the agency so special?
- References: Many service providers rely on references to underscore their expertise. The following overview names concrete corporate clients of the participating agencies. Some agencies are secretive about their mandates.
- Industry expertise: PR agencies delve deeply into their clients’ topics and build up a high level of expert knowledge and network with trade journalists. Clients can clearly benefit from this if the agency partner has already gained experience in the respective industry. The following analysis was used to determine the expertise of the agencies with regard to various industries.
- Internationality: PR usually takes place on a national level. For internationally active companies, however, it makes sense to concertedly manage their PR across national borders and to embed it in a global strategy. If you do not want to take on this coordination and the management of various service providers yourself, you should look for an agency partner that either acts as a lead agency or has offices in the respective countries. In our comparison, we asked in which countries the agencies offer their services.
- Core services of the agencies: We asked the agencies which core disciplines of PR they offer. The agencies were also able to specify areas of focus. One or the other provider struggled with a prioritization.
- Extended services: In addition to the core disciplines, there are services that belong more to the extended range of services. This means that clients may be able to save on additional service providers for certain tasks. For example, media monitoring or even social listening. There are some agencies that have this service in their service portfolio and where clients do not have to commission a separate service. In each case, we have distinguished whether the service is provided by the agency itself or by a partner service provider.
- Software use in the agencies: The technology stack is also becoming ever higher in PR agencies. We asked which software the agencies use. What tools do you use to work with your clients and how do you create and optimize content, for example?
- Content formats: When it comes to PR, people reflexively think of the press release or interview as a content format. But there is a whole range of content formats that can be produced by PR agencies today. We asked which content formats the agencies have experience with.
- Reporting: The big problem with PR is often its lack of measurability. Clients fear the big black box in which they regularly invest money without really knowing what is achieved with and for it. Therefore, clean and detailed reporting is very important in the agency-client relationship. In our comparison, we have listed which features are included in the service providers’ reporting as standard, which can be added on request and what clients have to do without.
- Data exchange with clients: The client and PR agency work closely together and coordinate in detail. Approvals, feedback on content or new ideas require fast and smooth processes and good tools for data exchange. Which agencies have which tools in place to ensure the best possible data exchange with their clients?
- Content distribution: New ideas and topics have been found, but how do you now get them into the identified target media? The agencies have different weightings for their distribution approaches here. We asked them to prioritize how often they rely on different content distribution methods in their day-to-day work.
- Legal criteria: Working with an agency partner always involves legal issues. Is the company sufficiently armed against cybercrime? Is the client indemnified against third-party rights? And what does it actually look like in terms of DSVGO?
- Additional information and services: With the following information, we have questioned the scope of services offered by the providers. Are there additional services offered to customers? In which associations are the agencies organized?
- Pricing approach of the agencies: In addition to the range of services, the cost of a PR mandate naturally also plays a major role in the selection process. Agencies rely on different remuneration logics. For example, some can be contracted exclusively via retainer payments. Others also charge on the basis of the exact amount of time spent. With one exception, the difference in daily rates is not serious, but there are differences in the minimum budget that should be estimated. A good orientation is also provided by the information on the budget range of a typical mandate at the agency.
References and Unique Selling Propositions of the agencies
Sometimes you need to know exactly why this provider should be the best and where he is already successful. We asked the providers about their USP and some references.
BEiL² Die PR-Strategen
What makes the solution special? Management consultancy with a focus on communications, ‘PR triad’.
What makes the solution special? High industry expertise and large network in construction/architecture, social media and influencer relations, creative concepts.
Drunk Octopus Communications
.FACTUM - Ehrliche Kommunikation
What makes the solution special? As a communications agency, we want to fulfill your wishes. This often means: achieving higher visibility among the respective target groups with our honest communication. In order to achieve this visibility, various channels have to be used. For this to be possible at all, all clients need one thing: sufficient and high-quality content! Honest communication is also our guiding principle within the company. We stand for a respectful and appreciative interaction with each other.
KREOS Reputation & PR
Lucy Turpin Communications
What makes the solution special? Strategic, integrated communications consulting in the B2B sector
What makes the solution special? Press’n’Relations takes full responsibility for the processes of press and media relations or social media management. If required, these can be completely outsourced to us. In the function of an external press office, we are then the central contact for the media.
What makes the solution special? ‘Communication for explanation-intensive topics from the B2B area.
What makes the solution special? PR excellence since 1994: We are an owner-managed PR agency with a high level of journalistic expertise and strong roots in the German and international SME sector. Our focus is on B2B communication in the fields of finance/fintech, aviation/tourism, politics/lobbying, information technology, innovation/patents and SMEs.
What makes the solution special? We think creatively, we work strategically.