If you’re in the marketing/PR business, or want to be, you will work with a number of vendors. No way go get around it. You will need graphic designers, printers, web programmers, photographers, event planners and more. So how do you find the right vendors who give you what you need when you need it for a price you want to pay?
Oddly, finding a good vendor is a lot like finding a good doctor, CPA or plumber. You ask your friends who they use. Sometimes referrals work out, sometimes they don’t. It can be a bit awkward if a close associate recommends a certain person or company they love, and it turns out that you don’t. But you need to make your clients or boss happy.
First bit of advice I would give is to decide whether you want a large, medium or small company. Or a company at all. In today’s wired world, an abundance of talent can be found in people who work in their pajamas in their bedrooms. They usually have solid professional experience, but want to be independent. If someone is a sole practioneer, don’t discount them. They could not only be brilliant, but they might provide you with better service and pricing than a large firm.
Second, make sure you have similar work styles. If you prefer working informally, meaning you can call the vendor at odd hours and weekends, then you need to find someone who shares that style. The larger the firm, the more formal they are, usually. They tend to keep normal hours and if you exceed their normal time structure, you might get charged.
Third, and this is obvious, hire people you can afford.
Fourth, and this is personal preference, if you find someone good, stick with them. The more you work with one person/company, the better they will come to know what you need and want. People reward loyalty, so if you keep the same people, when crunch time comes on a project they will be there for you.
Putting together a reliable, talented team can make all the difference in the world for your marketing campaigns. Take your time finding the right people, then stick with them.