“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” While Socrates probably did not foresee the advent of content in public relations, his words ring true for PR agencies of all stripes. Understanding your service gaps is the first step toward resolving them and building a stronger, more capable agency that exceeds clients’ expectations.


If your service gaps lie in content creation and management, you might need help to pinpoint your challenges and take the necessary steps to improve them. That’s why I created my Content Needs Benchmark Report (CNBR), a comprehensive review of your current content program and operations. We dig deep into what’s ailing your account teams’ content production and develop a roadmap to guide you toward greener content pastures.


Let’s break down the CNBR a little more…

Why conduct a CNBR?

As the PR industry adapts to a changing economic landscape, agencies seek ways to get stickier with clients. Increasing your value-add helps you build stronger (and more lucrative) client relationships.


And, despite the explosive growth of generative AI tools, content creation and management still befuddles most client organizations. That’s why top-rated PR agencies are leaning further into in-house content production, management, and distribution.


Writing great content, however, is a tricky operation. A lot goes into producing high-quality work that your clients will adore (and buy more of). Unguided forays into content ops can be interesting experiments — but interest quickly fizzles out when you’re not producing great content that leads to more client upsells.


Often, the first ones to notice the declining quality of your content product are account directors, VPs, and other client-facing leaders. They typically say these things about the work their teams produce:

  • “The writing isn’t compelling — things sound the same from client to client.”
  • “My people are bad writers, but I don’t know how to make them better.”
  • “Most content only skims the surface; I need it to tell a story.”
  • “My people need a framework on how to get started with writing better; they can’t do it alone.”


You hear these frustrations — and see them manifest in poor content quality and faltering production. 


But when it comes time to fix these problems, you don’t know what to do. That’s okay — content operations are a complicated beast. When you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to step back and figure out what’s going wrong and what to do next. 


That’s where I come in. I help agencies understand the true service gaps in their content operations — and draw your roadmap toward solving them.

The Content Needs Benchmark Report Process

What takes place during the CNBR? It’s typically a two-week commitment to uncover your true service gaps and build a personalized roadmap with immediate, actionable steps. I analyze three critical components of your content program:


In-house talent’s current skills

  • Writing capabilities and comfort level
  • Subject matter expert interviews (i.e. storymining, sourcing sessions, interviewing)
  • Research and information organization
  • Feedback solicitation and management



  • Drafting and editing process within teams
  • Success reporting to agency leadership and clients
  • Metrics tracking, both external and internal


Organizational structure

  • Project flow within and across account teams
  • Leadership’s proximity to written product
  • Overall strategic direction and goals with content as a service


To help facilitate this process, I ask participating agencies to:

  • Deliver up to four (4) writing samples per individual writer 
  • Have each writing staff member fill out my writing sentiment and self-assessment survey
  • Participate in staff interviews related to operational and organizational leadership


The evaluation and analysis process combines theories and practical experiences from several sources, including past work with top-rated PR agencies and grading rubrics used by the American Association of Colleges & Universities. From this process, I’ll generate your customized CNBR.


Your report will rate your writers in aggregate (or individually, if permitted) on a scale from 0 to 4:

Technical incompetence Minimum benchmarkApprenticeAdeptMastery

Completed CNBRs include a more detailed rubric focused on qualities like:

  • Research quality
  • Subject matter expert interviewing
  • Writing mechanics and conventions (including brand voice and tone)
  • Context and developmental process (i.e. how content moves through your agency)

Typically, agencies at each level look like this:


0 — Technical incompetence* (Unsatisfactory)

  • Very poor writing mechanics/illegible copy
  • Nonexistent quality control
  • Content misses all context and does not fulfill any client needs

1 — Minimum benchmark (Needs Work)

  • Content product is meeting the bare minimum a client expects
  • There’s a clear attempt made at writing content, but teams are falling short
  • ChatGPT is capable of writing better content than internal teams are

2 — Apprentice (Good)

  • Writers have more established mechanics — copy is fairly clean with few errors
  • But the product struggles to find differentiation between clients — everything “sounds the same”
  • There’s interest in doing better and some skill shown, but we need more practice and coaching to elevate your writing talent’s abilities 

3 — Adept (Better)

  • Writers demonstrate deeper competency with both mechanics and narrative abilities
  • Copy is free from errors and demonstrates elements of storytelling
  • Pieces start capturing unique elements from each client and show differentiation

4 — Mastery (Best)

  • Writers have fully captured the nuances of great storytelling in written content
  • Error-free copy reads gracefully, captures the client’s voice perfectly, and incorporates unique research and SME opinions
  • This is the kind of compelling content clients dream of


*I offer recommendations for tools and resources to help organizations at the 0 stage, but I only offer my consulting services once agencies address their technical competency.


You’ll also receive personalized recommendations within your report, including feedback on your writing samples and paths to improvement you can implement immediately. While I tailor recommendations to your organization, I’ll likely recommend improvements like:

  • Reading exercises to test comprehension and idea synthesis
  • Editorial practices like trade-and-grades between account teams or detailed walkthroughs of tools like Grammarly or Hemingway
  • Resources like books, blogs, and newsletters to refresh your team’s knowledge
  • Templates and guides to run more efficient SME interviews, conduct more thorough research, or outline and draft more detailed content pieces


Regardless of which recommendations you receive, they’re opportunities you can choose to implement on your own (or, if you want, you can get a little help implementing them).

But Alex, how much does this cost?

Remember that leaving this challenge unaddressed is already costing you. Lost revenue from content sales, hours burned up rewriting content, employee and client attrition due to frustrations with writing — it all adds up quickly!

As for how much the CNBR costs, I do have to provide that common consulting answer: “It depends.” A lot of work goes into each CNBR, and you get a highly personalized document that offers tremendous value.

The most significant price driver is the number of writing staff members you’d like assessed. Smaller agency teams can expect pricing starting around $3,000 per CNBR. Larger agencies with six or more writers can expect a starting price of around $5,000.

The dynamic pricing element helps ensure you get the highest quality report with steps you can take immediately to resolve your biggest content pain points. 

Ready to solve your content pains?

Content will only grow in importance as clients seek new ways to reach, educate, and retain their audiences. PR agencies that offer standout content services will make the best plays for client retention and expansion.

So take advantage of the opportunity now. If you’re ready to understand — and solve — your content operation gaps, let’s chat!