For most PR professionals, continuing education means learning about the latest communications tactics.
Over the past year, Adfero Group and the National Press Club have sponsored the Get PR Smart series to focus on exactly these sorts of tactics: how to use the latest social media tools, how to connect more directly with a target audience, and how to effectively engage in media monitoring.
The next event – scheduled for Friday, December 10 – will take a different approach. The seminar will address one of the most important, but often overlooked, subjects for both PR professionals and clients: Establishing a Meaningful Client/Agency Relationship.
An effective communications strategy requires a healthy, productive collaboration between a client and its agency. Yet, too often, critical mistakes are made early in the formation of the agency-client relationship.
For clients, the approach used to select an agency can be problematic down the road. It is natural to choose a PR firm based on its past experience, its expertise in a particular issue, and its general reputation. But if the criteria end there, clients never evaluate a firm on traits like responsiveness and thoughtfulness – two keys to a successful relationship and a successful campaign.
Particularly here in D.C., where the need for communications support can come up unexpectedly, a client’s chemistry with a prospective agency is often a nonfactor. But fit matters – no matter how good an end product may be, an agency should be enjoyable to work with. Clients should take the time to evaluate a potential firm from all angles.
Agencies also make early missteps by overpromising to win a client’s business. Optimism is great, but an agency must be realistic about its own capabilities and what is actually possible to achieve with a given campaign. In the professional services industry, it is widely accepted that client satisfaction is equal to the perceived results minus the client’s original expectations. Overly lofty predictions by the agency will ultimately lead to a dissatisfied client (and probably the end of the relationship).
To avoid disappointment on both ends, it is crucial for clients and agencies to set reasonable expectations at the beginning of a relationship or project.
- Communicating: The agency needs to receive clear expectations about how to communicate with the client. For example, are standing meetings necessary? Is email or phone preferable? Establishing these protocols at the outset will prevent conflict down the road.
- Tracking Progress: The agency should establish how to update the client on a project’s progress. For example, depending on the nature of a project, it might be appropriate to give the client access to a collaborative account management tool. In other cases, clients may not want or need that level of access.
- Measuring Results: Any communications campaign should have measurable metrics for success. The agency needs to establish corresponding reporting protocols that allow a client to see how those metrics are being met.
To learn more about how to establish and nurture a productive and health client-agency relationship, register today for the next Get PR Smart event.
Recent Posts By Jeff Mascott
- ‘March for Innovation’ Campaign Goes Social, Skips Email - May 22nd, 2013
- Content Marketing: An Advocacy Strategy You Can’t Ignore - March 13th, 2013
- Three Adfero Clients Named W3 Awards Winners - November 6th, 2012
- Two Adfero Colleagues Named Finalists in PRNews’ PR People Awards - October 16th, 2012
- Evaluating a 21st Century PR program - June 20th, 2012