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Signs you’re working with an ad agency instead of a PR firm

By Jacob McKimm

Use these questions to see if you’re working with an ad agency in disguise


A woman talking on a phone while viewing something on her computer.You’ve recently started working with a PR agency. Everything looks good; they know what you want and the price is right. However, something seems…off about them now that you’ve established a business relationship. You can’t put your finger on it. They just don’t seem to be the PR firm you were expecting. In fact, they seem to be more of an ad agency. But how can you prove it?




If you’re in this situation, use these three questions to explore whether the “PR” firm you’re working with is actually an advertising agency in disguise.


  • How big is the accounting department?

Does the “PR” firm you’re working with have an accounting firm that’s larger than the PR department? If so, you’re working with an agency that’s primarily focused on advertising, not PR.

  • How many designers are in the PR firm?

If there are a lot of designers in the firm, you’re working with an advertising firm that has a PR side hustle, not a dedicated PR firm.

  • Are you getting pay-for-play offers?

If you’re getting a lot of offers for paid speaking engagements, donations, and paid sponsorships from them, you’re with an advertising firm that has a small PR branch. These kinds of offers are not what PR is meant to do for you.



With these three tips, you can determine if the PR firm you’re working with is a true PR agency or is an advertising firm with a small PR side business. If you discover you’re actually working with an ad firm, it’s time to find a dedicated PR firm. Your valuable PR budget needs to go to a firm that is 100% focused on PR instead of a company that treats it as a side business. If you’re looking for a dedicated PR firm, contact Axia Public Relations and we’ll be happy to get you started.


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McKimm_Jacob-1.jpgClients love Jacob’s speed. Jacob is an inbound marketing-certified webmaster. He earned an integrated communications degree from Florida State College at Jacksonville. Jacob joined Axia PR as an intern in August 2015 and earned his way into a critical role at our PR agency.


Photo by Marcus Aurelius from Pexels

Topics: public relations, PR tips

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