A Portrait of a Good Client – Part III, Good Collaboration Maximizes Budgets and Results
As we developed the blog series “A Portrait of a Good PR Client” we asked some PR peers for their thoughts on the ideal client. Most mentioned the topics covered in our earlier posts – “Understanding Your Goals” and “Being Realistic About Communications Results & Timing.” But one desired characteristic was voiced in every response – COLLABORATION.
You may think that collaboration is a natural component of the client-agency relationship. But in many cases clients don’t fully utilize their outside PR team’s expertise. Here’s a rundown of best practices for collaborating with you PR agency:
- Involve the agency in your strategic planning. Some clients plan their PR on their own and then bring in their PR firm to help with implementation. But incorporating an outside agency’s experience and recommendations for developing a strategic communications plan while still in the planning phase will likely generate a more comprehensive communications program from a strategic and tactical perspective. After all, you are hiring your firm because they bring valuable expertise to the table!
- Provide information that’s complete. Agency team members are often hamstrung by clients who don’t provide the right or enough information to do our jobs. We can’t speak to the media on your behalf, write effective content, or development strategic programs and messaging without a full understanding of your business.
- Be responsive in a timely manner. Granted, even when you arm your PR team early-on during the planning stages, they will still need to address last-minute issues which are often driven by media queries – this is the nature of our industry. So why prepare your agency and then be slow to respond when media results are nearly secured? PR is driven by news, and as you know, news becomes “yesterday’s news” almost immediately in today’s world of instant communications. If your PR team is unable to instantly respond to a media query journalists will move onto other sources and opportunities will be lost!
- Allow access to internal and external company resources. By letting your agency communicate with spokespeople, employees and even customers you enable them to gather a variety of perspectives about your business, which in turn trigger more ideas and lead to the development and execution of a more effective and authentic PR program.
- Avoid filtering information. Keep your agency abreast of changes or potential problems that may impact the communications effort. Such transparency will enable you to work together to adapt the program as needed. You must be able to trust your PR agency.
- Be inclusive. PR agencies are all too often the last ones to know what’s going on, so they’re chasing news rather than out in front of it (as much as they can be with social media). Good clients consider their PR people as part of their inner circle, the A team, THEIR team. This, of course, is predicated on the fact that your agency has proven to be big thinkers, knows what questions to ask and isn’t afraid to ask them. If this isn’t the case, find a new agency.
- Trust your team. Trust is the foundation of a successful collaborative relationship. Consider your outside PR agency as an extension of your team. By fully integrating your efforts and COLLABORATING you will ensure efficiencies and maximize your budget. Your team AND BRAND are more likely to succeed!
We’d love to hear about your agency-client collaboration experiences. What has worked and what has not?