How to Be a Great Client: Simple Tips for Working with Your PR Agency
Learning to work with an agency, especially when you’ve never done it before, can be an exercise in trust and faith. Having an understanding of the dynamics of this relationship will help you develop a strong relationship with your agency and they will perform better for you and your company.
Finalize a plan: Before you start moving ahead with your agency, make sure there is a plan. Everyone
needs to know where they’re going, what goals and budget need to be set and met, and how it is all going to happen. This should be a comprehensive plan that may involve several documents, such as an overall strategy and task list with set deadlines. This way you, the client, understand what you will be called to provide to assist the agency, and you know exactly what tasks to expect to be accomplished.
Be understanding: As your agency, we have to deal with a number of things – rejection by media, media who don’t necessarily have the time to speak to us, media that don’t respond, and sometimes negative feedback from media. Moreover, the result of these may cause us to rethink and change gears. This is not meant to outweigh the many positives that we experience as well, rather meant to give you some insight to create understanding to the process.
Be flexible: Speaking of changing gears. It’s not ideal and not part of our thought process going into the project, but we have to be flexible to the response of media and make a shift in the best interest of our clients and our success. In my mind, when I put together a plan it is often “written in Jello”. Being flexible is important to your success and ours.
Ask questions: You have every right to ask questions to better understand the direction and tactics your agency is taking. This is part of the relationship building phase. After all, you are spending money and energy on hiring an agency, so you should feel confident every step of the way.
Have a positive attitude: The saying goes “Having a positive attitude may not solve every problem, but it makes solving any problem a more pleasant experience.” If something isn’t going as well as planned, we try to keep a positive outlook. Why? Because there is always opportunity. We need our clients to share in this approach and trust that we’ve got your back.
Provide guidance: As your agency, we will do all the work we can to become an expert on your industry. Sometimes working with a firm that is an expert in your industry is not always the best. A fresh approach is needed from time to time. With that said, there are times when you need to step in and offer advice. It is always welcome and appreciated. We know a lot, just not everything.
Learn when to receive guidance: Often times clients have a predetermined idea of what type of campaign they want; what it should look like. When you ask for outside help, you have to be willing to receive thinking that doesn’t align with yours. It is always worth it to take a step back and consider the advice you’re being given. If it fails to align with your brand, messaging and goals, then say something. Like any relationship, it’s a give and take, yet all for the same common goal.
This is a team sport: Hiring an agency is great for companies with smaller communications departments and those that need some fresh outside thinking. However, you don’t just leave them to run on their own once the ink on the agreement is signed. This is a team sport. You’re hiring people to strengthen and deepen your bench and we want to be treated like we’re part of the team. Our goal is to create wins for your company and that takes all of us.
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