Building Effective Relationships: What an Agency Needs from Its Clients

Last month, I wrote about five ways PR reps can keep their clients informed – and happy. Let’s reverse this and discuss five things clients should do to keep their agencies informed – and motivated and feeling like part of a trusted partner relationship.
  • Be Involved – and Involve Them: In most cases, you’ve hired your PR agency to help determine the messages your organization should be communicating to your respective audiences and then communicate those messages to those audiences in myriad ways: press releases, pitches, social media, blogs, speaker opportunities, etc. To facilitate their job, involve them in discussions about upcoming news from the very beginning. Involving them from the start helps them see the big picture and gives them ample time to build – and then execute on – successful PR campaigns.
  • Be Communicative: In addition to involving your agency in executive planning/strategy meetings, if possible, schedule regular status calls and keep to them as much as possible. The more communications there is between a client and their PR agency, the more successful the campaign will be. Be prepared to give an update on anything within the organization that has changed during the week, especially if it is relevant to the company’s messages or any ongoing pitching. If you hear of any news that might be coming out in the next quarter, inform the agency so they can help determine if it really is news and strategize on when and how it needs to be shared with relevant audiences.
  • Be Responsive: We’re all busy, but when a reporter calls or emails with an urgent request, we need the client to answer the questions as soon as possible. Please.
  • Be Open & Honest: Make sure to be honest with your agency about what is happening within the company. The agency can then help you determine to what extent you want to share the details with your audiences and whether how you are positioning your company inthe media is appropriate. Also be willing and receptive to taking their ideas and counsel. That’s what an agency is for, right?
  • Be Realistic & Patient: Creating a successful PR campaign takes time. Results aren’t often immediate, especially results like getting in the New York Times or TechCrunch or other high-traffic publications. Unless you really have a story these publications will cover right away (i.e. unique, game-changing new product or industry), work with your agency to help them secure coverage in media outlets that specifically target your audiences. These often deliver the best results and will then show the bigger publications that you have relevant stories worth covering.A few years back, one of my startup clients said its ultimate goal was to have its launch covered in the Wall Street Journal and was disappointed when it didn’t happen right away. A full one year after the organization’s launch, and after I’d sent several pitches as the startup experienced various successes, a WSJ reporter included the startup in a story. While not all companies are going to be WSJ-worthy, being patient – and willing to target other publications more realistic to your story – is critical to a client/agency relationship.
The more you communicate with your agency, the better the relationship will be – and the more success you’ll see come out of it. How do you like to communicate with your agency – or clients?