Having worked in PR from an agency point of view for 8 years of my career, and on client side for the past few months. Here are some of my tips for how you build synergies and get the best out of your agencies. I encourage agencies to propose this process to clients and vice versa. The fairy-tale really does exist, you just must fight for it…
- There should be a non-negotiable 1-week onboarding process with all agencies. Preferably at the same time. During this process the client takes the agency through brand CI, how to use the logos and generic do’s and do nots.
- I would also like to see clients presenting best practice examples and case studies to the agency as well as previous awards won. That way they are setting expectations upfront. That way, the client is very clearly stating that they acknowledge this work as the benchmark, and these are the awards they’ve won because of it. Now it’s your turn as the agency to carry the baton for us. People are not as scared once they know that it has been done before.
- The agencies need to present their discipline to the clients for there to be thorough understanding. People who don’t work in PR don’t understand what it is, the same way people who don’t work in digital don’t understand why a GIF cannot be created in a minute or two.
- This is a vitally important element in any client-agency relationship and it’s unfortunately a process that is often not followed. The work you receive is only as good as the brief you give / receive. Spend one hour developing a detailed agency brief in order to save yourself 6 hours’ worth of reverts.
- Be human and have realistic expectations. When I worked at an agency the client would send a brief at 16h00 on a Friday and wanted us to present the ideas at 09h00 on a Monday. This should be the exception, not the rule and unfortunately this is not true amongst many agencies. Too often clients think ‘but it’s their job’. This is your wakeup call, that thinking doesn’t fly anymore. It’s outdated, unrealised and downright offensive. Don’t ever assume that work will take president over an employees’ personal life. Once an employee feels undervalued or exploited, you’ve lost the IP you’ve invested into them, as well as the loyalty and creativity that comes with that individual as they’re going to start seeking employment elsewhere.
- If you are the client and your business pays for an employee to be a dedicated resource on your account, have a few hot spot desks at the office for your agencies to sit at. Allow them to come in 2+days a week. They need to come in with an agenda of tasks they need approval on, ideas they want to present etc. Schedule all your meetings for this day too. You’ll be amazed at how quickly tasks move forward and how much you cut back on emails.
- For some reason clients have this idea that they are superior, and the agency is a machine who just must do these unrealistic tasks, with no time or budget available. That therefore you can speak to them however you please. NO. Together a brand. company has hired you both to reach a common goal and you need to see your agency as a partner, not someone to abuse. Thank them and acknowledge them for the work they do. A simple ‘Hey x, I saw you worked on this proposal all weekend, thank you so much, we appreciate it’. Show people that their efforts are not going unnoticed. That is how you build loyalty that you cannot buy.
- Be very clear with an agency about the businesses KPI’s from the start. Detail which campaigns need to be knocked out of the park, which ones you usually excel in and which ones no one expects us to do well in.
At the end of the day, a mutually beneficial relationship comes down to respect and empowerment. Respecting someone’s craft and their time and empowering them to create award winning work. Now go on and live happily ever after.