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.