How to get the most out of your PR and marketing agency
In order to succeed in today’s increasingly competitive market, businesses are having to scrutinize their sales and marketing activity to ensure they establish and maintain their brand image as well as generate leads. Working as productively and efficiently as possible, while drawing on the right external input at the right time is key. Many businesses depend on their relationships with external agencies for support with the successful conception, delivery and measurement of their PR and marketing campaigns. But how can businesses maximise this valuable partnership to ensure a strong return on investment and ultimately, prove it has achieved the required results?
As discussed in a recent article published by Marketing Week, successful client-agency relationships adopt a flexible approach to take advantage of the new opportunities that enable businesses to communicate more effectively with their target audience. Marketing and PR agencies aim to provide expert support drawing on knowledge and experience that clients may not have, or be able to uncover quickly, internally. In the past, agencies have tended to specialise in a certain area such as digital or creative but now, clients are increasingly expecting agencies to provide a more comprehensive suite of services.
We’ve listed some top tips to help you make the most of your agency relationship:
- Set expectations at the start: Setting clear, measurable objectives at the start of a new relationship or campaign helps to ensure everyone is on the right track from the start, avoiding problems later down the line. This also goes for how you expect the relationship to function and being clear about things like how you prefer to be communicated with (and how often), how you want information reported and any important deadlines that need to be met.
- Be honest: As in any relationship, honesty is essential to building a foundation for trust. If you are honest with your agency when it comes to budgets, expectations, feedback and future plans, your agency can provide the most appropriate response and solution. In return, you should always expect honesty from your agency. Read our blog on the importance of perception in the client agency relationship for our approach to tailored relationship building.
- Agree on a brief: The brief is arguably one of the most important documents passed between a client and agency, but so often it is the most neglected. From defining the target audience to the theme, the better the brief the better the output so putting in the time up-front to develop a comprehensive brief before a project gets going is critical to success. Remember to make sure that your brief allows for creativity to truly get the best of your creative teams. Whether it is a design project or new PR campaign, agencies understand that a brief may change along the way but as long as it’s communicated clearly we can work with it.
- Take a flexible approach: Benjamin Franklin once said “when you're finished changing, you're finished.” By being open to change, brands can improve their ability to adapt to new trends and tailor their message to the current market more effectively. We admit, change can be scary but when agencies provide a solution or idea that you hadn’t considered before or that goes in a different direction to what the business has done before. Consider how a new approach could put you ahead of the curve to help your business stand out from the crowd.
- Share information: Disclaimer: agencies are not mind readers. Sharing information, even if it may seem insignificant, helps an agency become immersed in your brand and business and deliver more insightful and impactful campaigns. Knowledge is power and the more clued-up your agency is about how your business works, the better positioned they will be to help you when any organisational or market challenges arise, . It’s also our job to read all about you, on an ongoing basis. Sometimes, we share insight with our clients about their business or market before they have seen it.
- Provide feedback: Timely feedback is essential in the client-agency relationship. All too often a project finishes and it’s onto the next without taking the time to evaluate and provide feedback. If you’re not happy with something then the only way to try to solve it is to let your agency know. Likewise if you’re really happy with the way a project is going, there is nothing that makes us happier than being given some appreciation from a happy client! Rather than taking feedback as criticism, any good agency would be grateful for your feedback as a way to continuously improve and as a sign of a commitment to the future of the relationship.
- Invest time in the relationship: Viewing your agency as a partner in your success rather than just a supplier is one of the first steps to creating a long-term relationship that will yield results for years to come. Communication is key here – rather than relying on emails or conference calls, meet face to face as much as you can. It’s much easier (and more fun!) to get more out of your meetings when you can engage and share ideas with each other directly.
If you are considering finding a new partner for your PR and marketing activity make sure you consider the following during your search:
- Do they have the right industry credentials and insight?
- Have they done their homework? If they aren’t showing eagerness to work with you at the beginning and taking in interest in your business, the challenges you face and what you’re trying to achieve, walk away.
- Do they listen to what you have to say rather than just trying to sell to you, or tell you what they think?
- Can the agency show evidence of proven results with other clients or provide you with references?
- Do you have a personal chemistry – can you see your team working with them?
- Reach, services and expertise – how do they handle different regions? Do they offer all of the services you might need, where you need them?
- Approach to costing – benchmark against other agencies and check if their model suits your needs, if not, will they be flexible?
We pride ourselves on being flexible with our clients; working with them on strategy, roll out and tactical support where required as an extension of the in-house team. If you would like to learn more about our experience in delivering strategic marketing and PR campaigns for our clients or have a chat about how we could help you, contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or 01477 529 539.