Local Market Public Relations Programs: New Agency Search Options for Corporate Communicators

Public relations is a relationship business. Local market knowledge and relationships matter. No matter how strong your company’s story, the coverage you may be able to generate in national or trade media by getting into the Boston Business Journal, The Seattle Times, or the Des Moines Register, requires PR professionals who know the journalists and understand what will resonate with them.     


Local Market PR

Of course, PR today is not just about press coverage. Raising the profile of a brand, business unit, financial advisor, or consultant requires multi-disciplinary skillsets and knowledge that incorporates digital marketing, events, and relationships with community influencers of all stripes. Finding firms with the right combination of skills for a particular project is critical.

For national brands, there’s the additional dimension of making sure that local market programs are consistent with and complement national programs. As a former head of communications for large financial institutions, I know first-hand how hard it is to balance the potential of local market PR programs (and demand for communications resources), with the need to manage risk to the brand.

A client of CommunicationsMatch™ with branches across the U.S., provides a great example of a corporate communications team building local market programs that deliver results with the necessary controls in place. It also underscores the value of our new-to-the-industry option of modestly-priced consultant-supported searches that leverage our search and Agency Select™ RFQ/RFP tools.    



Our client starts each local market search by working with our consultants to identify agencies with the expertise and fit for their local and national business goals. Working with our partner RFP Associates, we find local firms based on each branch’s business goals – freeing up home office time and ensuring that the local office has experts they can rely on to help them select firms.

Key to the success of the program is the corporate team’s implementation of effective processes to ensure the coordination of agencies around the country through regular calls and information sharing. Finding agencies that match needs and having a well-managed process, keeps the firms hired on message and delivering strong results, reflected in the program’s continued growth and satisfaction of business leaders.

Leveraging our search and hiring technology to offer a consultant-supported search is a valuable new search option, and scaled to business unit or branch PR budgets to help communicators get a local market program off the ground.


Agency Search Consulting Services

It’s one of three search options built into the platform that are structured around client needs, expertise, and resources.  

Agency Search, Selection, and Hiring Tools 

Client organizations can use our free search tools to identify national and independent agencies in local markets with the industry and communications expertise they need. Corporate communications leaders with the capacity to manage the search process can shortlist and reach out directly to agencies they are interested in working with, or use our Agency Select™ RFQ/RFP hiring tools to streamline the finalist selection and hiring process.

Agency Search Support (Hybrid Model)       

By leveraging our search tools and technology, and the expertise of our search consultants, we offer a hybrid agency search option that significantly reduces the burden of a search on the communications or marketing team. The client organization benefits from a thorough search process, which ultimately leads to better outcomes and lower agency turnover. The development of this approach has enabled us to deliver search support to clients across the country at very affordable rates – an industry game changer.      

Turnkey Agency Searches

Our search consulting partner, RFP Associates, has conducted multiple searches on behalf of large corporations, associations, and not-for-profits with a turnkey search process for high-value assignments. Often conducted for agency-of-record or complex assignments, clients engage our team based on the expertise we bring to each step of the hiring process. Where a client is looking to engage one agency to access its network of branches to implement a local market program, our search consultants bring the expertise needed to help evaluate capabilities across multiple branches – a key to success.                    

Whichever option clients choose, our experience shows that successful local market programs have two things in common:

The first is a disciplined search process to find the best firms with local relationships and expertise that fit each assignment’s needs.

The second is a well-managed, corporate communications-run process that is the basis for effectively engaging agencies, leveraging content, coordinating with the head office, and ensuring activities are aligned at a local and national level. 


Simon Erskine Locke is founder & CEO of communications agency and professional search and services platform, CommunicationsMatch™, which powers PRSA’s Find a Firm agency search tools. CommunicationsMatch developed Agency Select™, the industry’s first integrated agency search and RFP tools, in partnership with RFP Associates.  CommunicationsMatch is also a partner of communications research firm Researchscape.   

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