Copyright 2018

The Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) is the professional body, which represents the interests of public relations professionals. At least one senior member of a consultancy must be an individual member of PRISA. Members are expected to maintain standards in line with the PRISA Code of Ethics and Conduct.

Benefits of appointing a member of PRISA:

  • Wide range of expertise
  • Top media connections
  • Cost-effective public relations programmes
  • Objectivity
  • Creativity and dynamic ideas

A public relations professional can provide the following services:

  • Creating, maintain and improving an organisation’s corporate image
  • Playing a role within the marketing mix, specifically in the field of marketing promotions
  • Giving guidance in the area of social responsibility
  • Promoting effective internal communication
  • Promoting effective external communication
  • Scientific forward planning for emergencies and crisis communication.

Selecting a Consultancy

Whether or not your organisation employs public relations staff, the need may arise for you to appoint a consultancy either to undertake a once-off project or to assist you on an on-going basis.

To enhance good communication:

  1. Discuss exactly what you require, up front.
  2. Establish exactly what services the public relations professional can provide.
  3. Mutually agree on fees, the contact persons, the length of the contract and how results will be measured.

What to look for and what questions to ask:

  • Is the public relations professional registered with PRISA?
  • Request current client references that are contactable. Ask for examples of projects worked on and about the length of the projects. Establish whether client is still using their services and if not, then why not? 
  • Does the professional have experience in the areas of specialisation that you need?
  • Does the professional have the facilities, infra-structure, expertise and range of services you require?
  • Decide whether you want to work with a smaller consultancy where you will get personal senior level attention, or a larger one that will have the resources for a demanding measurable programme. 
  • Do they bill you by the hour, per job or project or require a retainer. How will results be measured in line with the billing process?
  • Ask whether your business will be handled by senior partners, or by junior account executives? Are the creative team permanent or freelancing.  Permanent staff normally work better as a team.
  • Ask about their technological capabilities. What is done in-house and what is out-sourced?
  • Ask what experience they have in your particular market and discipline.  What information and insight can they bring to the table that you do not already have?
  • What experience do they have outside of your field? Can they provide fresh ideas and insights?
  • Does the consultancy favour one particular medium or can they work effectively across all mediums.  Do they have an integrated approach?
  • Considering the fast changing socio-political environment: do you get the feeling the candidates are innovative and up to the task?
  • How do well-informed people judge the professional that you will be working with?

Six steps to choose a public relations professional that is right for you

  1. They can identify your objectives and bring your public relations and communication programmes in line with your business strategy.
  2. Their presentation taught you something new.
  3. Do you like the way they present themselves and their work?
  4. Do you like the examples/ pitch that they have provided.
  5. They have the ability to give you a solid strategy and the ability to create and communicate ideas that will sell your products and services.
  6. They provide satisfying answers to all the questions that you ask.

Seven quick-check questions to ask to evaluate a professionals skills

  1. What do you regard as our principle need or problem?
  2. What can you offer us that other public relations professionals have not been able to provide?
  3. How will we measure or evaluate your success in meeting our needs/ solving our problems?
  4. Are you willing to work on a performance basis – that is, to be compensated on the basis of the results you produce?
  5. What related experience have you had in working with organisations similar to ours?
  6. What related experience have you had in working with needs and problems similar to ours?
  7. Who may we contact as a reference about the services you provide?

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PRISA Membership

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Contact details

Telephone: (011) 326 1262 / 011 326 1626
Fax: (011) 326 1259


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PO Box 2825, Pinegowrie, 2123, Johannesburg, South Africa