I have a confession: I am obsessed with Marie Kondo and her tidying philosophy. Her best-selling book burst back into the mainstream earlier this year with the launch of her Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” starting a worldwide trend of only keeping clothing and household items that spark joy.

I was skeptical at first, but once I organized one drawer I realized the awesomeness of only keeping the clothing I really loved. This led me to want to “Marie Kondo” my entire house, life, and business!

While “Marie Kondo-ing” people out of your life is a little more complicated than parting with an old T-shirt, there’s no reason not to expect your agency partners to spark joy in your marketing program.

Is that happening? Here are six ways to determine if your PR firm should go in the “keep” or “discard” pile:

Do they bring new ideas to the table?

It’s great when you have a steady pipeline of company announcements and a strong stable of thought leaders to put forward for news stories. But a great PR agency partner will also bring new ideas—whether it’s identifying fresh story angles, providing digital strategies for maximizing a great media hit, or recommending new partnership or event opportunities to deepen connections with your community. Look for a partner who goes beyond the basics.

Do they show up in big and small ways?

Does your agency provide prep for media opportunities and show up for interviews and events? If a last-minute news opportunity arises, or if you have to respond to a crisis, is your agency available? It’s important to have a strong team behind you to provide consistent communication and support. You should have access to PR professionals across all levels who can counsel you on how to approach each situation.

Are they flexible?

While it’s important to start with a solid communications strategy and roadmap to achieve your goals, PR professionals must also have the ability to quickly shift gears, respond to breaking news, and always have a back-up plan. If your team can’t shift priorities when you need them to or adapt to changes, it might be time to sweep them out the door.

Do they continuously learn and evolve?

The media landscape continually changes, with near-daily updates such as new social algorithms, owned content opportunities, and the rise of influencers. Your PR agency should foster a culture of learning and cultivate new skills and professional growth in its employees to stay on top of industry trends and provide new services when you need them.

Do you genuinely like them?

Do you look forward to talking to your PR team, or do you dread each status call? Do you enjoy going to lunch or happy hour with them? Most of all, do you take their advice?

Do you trust them?

PR professionals are like lawyers. In order to do their best work for you, they need to know everything—the good, the bad, and the ugly. This not only helps them uncover new, positive stories within your organization—it helps them effectively respond to any negative ones. To get the most out of your relationship, you need open, unfiltered communication. And in order to feel comfortable sharing with them, you need to trust them.

Does your agency spark joy? I’m happy to help you answer these questions and consider others over a coffee or maybe even a glass of rosé. Shoot me an email at gina@abelcommunications.com.