How to Sprint Towards a Successful ‘PR / Comms’ Business Relationship

On my run this morning (boy it was Brass Monkey weather today!), I thought about sharing some tips on how to ensure a successful ongoing client / agency relationship.  There are always ups and downs in these arrangements, as it’s of course partly linked to personal chemistry, but here are some of my key points for new, and even the more established PR, comms & marketing professionals, and agencies, on how to keep things positive and mutually successful for 2020.  

Plant Solid Foundations:

Providing upfront clarity is important.  Getting a clear brief, ideally a written one, but a verbal one could work too, on what the business actually needs is key. Beyond providing the key elements of the PR/comms brief, being clear on why the business needs support and what the business goals are, is required.  Is it, for example, about customer acquisition, investment, executive profile, geographic expansion or more likely a combination of connected goals?  Be honest and upfront, to avoid nasty surprises down the line. 

Active Listening:

From the beginning, and throughout the relationship, it’s important that both parties listen, really listen, to each other.  This is not only about building trust, and demonstrating understanding, but will enable the agency team to acknowledge, capture and integrate those ‘golden nuggets’ in to the programme.  Otherwise, these ‘magical gems’ could remain hidden, unsaid or worse still, said but unheard.  Likewise, agency consultants are providing advice that should be well thought-through, so brands should listen carefully, and seriously consider the advice.

Keeping It Fresh:

After the honeymoon period is over, that’s when the real work and fun begins.  The ongoing programme, linked to a clear plan, concise messages and agreed measurables, kicks off in earnest, but is partly dependent on contact, content, collaboration, chemistry and creativity.   Frequent contact with local and global teams will help trigger thinking and ideas, so build that into the schedule.   Content is still king, so ensure that there is a plan and process of identifying and building the smartest content from the most eager executives.  Collaboration with the broader team is key, as this will often inspire and spark ideas, but be frank about what will work in your region.  Chemistry and creativity are big issues, so more may follow here, but separately…

Marathon Not A Sprint:    

Linking ‘rather clumsily’ to my morning run, both sides desire a long term business relationship that is mutually beneficial.  Both honesty and realism are key, from the outset.  When it works well, it’s great, and we’ve all witnessed it work well, and indeed less well.   However, don’t shy away from contentious areas such as budget, mission creep, message challenges, KPIs, choice of agency partners or less than enthusiastic spokespeople / executives, as this all can be addressed.   

If we all collectively strive to move in this direction, this will help set us all up for a sustainable and successful long term and valuable Communications relationship.  Jog on!This is a work in progress for everybody, even us, but it has served us as a good directional guide.  


A quality PR brief is your way to finding the right agency partner.  A considered approach, tailored to your needs, will help you to assess if the agencies can demonstrate an ability to support your business goals. Here are our four tips for communications professionals to keep in mind when creating that perfect brief:

Business Goals:

Be clear on what you want in an agency partner.  Know how you want them to fit into your working life, and the goals that you want them to achieve.  You need to be clear on the company’s business objectives, whether this is a specific sales target, sign-ups to a service, or a quality audience to attend an event. Aim to pick out at least three business objectives, that will determine the communication objectives, and ultimately the PR programme.

Know your PR Objectives:

Once you’ve laid out the business objectives, you need to overlay your PR objectives, and outline what the agency will need to work towards and be measured by. We suggest including at least three key messages that a PR campaign should cover.  This helps the PR agencies streamline thinking around your messages, and the programme.  The objectives should ideally be SMART (specific, measurable, agreed, realistic & timed). If you don’t know your messages, then this will need work. Ensure that different stakeholders across the business, and across regions, are aligned on objectives, to save confusion down the line.

Measures of Success (KPIs):

Your potential agency partners need to know what campaign success looks like, which should align back to your business and PR objectives.  You’ll also need to know what you want your budget to achieve. Outlining clear and measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) allows the interested agencies to know what they should strive for to meet the objectives.  There are industry best practice measurement approaches to consider here too, but well defined KPIs will eliminate poor fit agencies, and save time for you and them.

Budget Clarity:

The best briefs won’t go down the route of asking what the agencies can come up with, with a blank sheet of paper.  To understand agency thinking, consider giving them an additional ‘project brief’ to test ideas.  But, for the core brief, provide a full understanding (or at least a range) of the budget available, which will allow them to create the right sized campaign plan, linked to the budget available.  This will give you a clearer idea of what can be delivered with the resources available on a level playing field. Budget clarity will also rule out some agencies, if the budget is deemed too small, or too large.

Best Fit Summary:

Investing the time to create a thoughtful, commercial-oriented brief that provides transparency about what your business is looking for in a communications partner is key.  This will help ensure that you see quality proposals and agencies, that are better aligned with business goals.  This is not an exact science, but will help allow you to select the most suitable PR partner, with the right strategy to positively drive your communications programme to the next level.


Ok – so, a warning that this post is a little ‘self-puffy’, but here it goes anyway!   Elate Communications has now been in business for just over four years, and we’re ‘elated’ with the success to date.  But, the journey is just starting …

We’ve had the pleasure to work with a quality selection of start-ups, midmarket and blue-chip clients across many technology and B2B sectors, from across the world.  We also work with great staff, and partners, who will go beyond the ‘call of duty’ for our clients, and the business – and for that we are very grateful.

We’re pleased with the progress made to date, but even more energised about the future.  Yes, there will be some political and business uncertainty, amidst a fast-evolving communications landscape, but that’s not unique.  We are cautiously optimistic that the future will be positive, for us and our clients.

Not wanting to sound too much like a ‘happy-clappy’ 1970s Coke Ad, we’ll continue to enthusiastically help our clients – and staff – grow and prosper.  As we grow, we recognise, too, that feedback from our community is essential. Therefore, we’re open to feedback, suggestions and future partnerships.   So, feel free to ping us. Let us know what you really think.

We’ve also updated our web site ( and we welcome your thoughts. And, if you want to meet up to discuss communications, marketing, business, politics, sport or whatever, we look forward to it.


Progressive technology & B2B firms recognise that their prospective buyers are far more sophisticated than before.

They are assessing your digital footprint, before you’ve even met. Data from Forbes found that 78% of salespeople using social media to sell, out performed those who weren’t. This has big implications for marketing and PR teams, in supporting this evolving sales function. Smaller and forward thinking firms can have a distinct advantage over their larger competitors. Here are ‘some’ basic tips on how to maximise the potential.

Audience Focus:

Take time to consider who your audience really are and where they are likely to be, across the numerous social platforms. This takes some work, but it is important. Don’t be tempted to spread yourself too thinly across all channels, and be everywhere at once. Start small and do it right – then build from there.

Valuable Content:

The business narrative has moved from product benefits to value provided. Across your audience, do a little research to assess what they value, the market & competitive context and how your proposition can add value. Focus your messaging around how you solve business problems, not the speed of your widgets.

Take a Position:

Linked to the above, position yourself as an expert in your field or take on a more challenger or niche role. You should be creating new, content and highlighting new initiatives or thinking. Or take a different slant on an existing client problem.

Build relationships:

This is a tough one, but as in normal life, this takes time and effort. Find out what your customers want and where are their pain points. Be honest and try not to be ‘too marketing’. If you can’t help them, perhaps you know somebody that can? The greater the engagement, the better it will be for your brand and sales efforts.

Keep Track:

Once you’ve got the basics in place, you need to monitor progress and quantify it, as best you can. There are tools available, in assessing what this social activity is actually doing for the business from social metrics up to sales.

There are no sure-fire answers, but if you are not part of the right conversations, in the right places, your competitors no doubt will be. Get going and re-focus, to help your brand and sales grow.