The math is simple:
A good client + a good agency + the right attitudes = great PR ROI.
In looking at the most successful client/PR agency relationships, there are several common ingredients:
1. Mutual understanding – Both client and agency need to invest the time and effort to get to know and understand each other’s organizations, people, goals and issues. A deep-dive session, regular visits to each other’s facilities, sharing materials and constant communication goes along way.
2. Shared goals and accountability – The client and agency need to identify common objectives and measures upfront, so they can work together to achieve them. The client shares its marketing and strategic business plans with the agency to provide insight as to how the agency’s efforts fit into the big picture; the agency shares its perspective of the larger market and media landscape.
3. Openness and fidelity – Both the client and agency are open and transparent in their communication with each other, and are true to the relationship. Openness and faithfulness also helps eliminate mistrust, turf wars and competitive battles.
4. Access and attention – Things work best when the agency provides the client with senior-level attention wherever and whenever necessary, and always acts with a sense of urgency and purpose. On the flip side, the client provides access to the right people and/or information, and makes responding to the agency a priority.
5. Realistic expectations – The agency should understand what the client faces in terms of priorities, timing, budget and other constraints. Likewise, the client should understand what kind of timing and results are feasible and realistic.
6. Thoughtfulness – The better agencies show the client they’re always thinking about them – offering up new ideas, opportunities, anticipating needs and going above and beyond the client’s requirements to ensure satisfaction. Both parties typically remember and nurture the human side of the relationship, as well.
7. Predictability / no surprises – By establishing policies and procedures for the partnership early on – such as regularly scheduled meetings or conference calls, status reports, budget tracking, etc. – both parties minimize unsettling surprises and keep momentum going. Early warnings about emerging issues can help isolate and address problems before they become major issues.
8. Desire to improve – The best relationships eliminate waste by regularly looking at the way they interact, determining how processes can be streamlined and what non-value-added activities can be eliminated to make the existing budget more productive.
9. Good housekeeping – The agency is fair on pricing, meets deadlines, provides great service and listens. The client provides clear direction, makes sure the bills are paid, provides timely feedback and listens.
10. Celebration – Just as in any relationship, the best partners don’t take each other for granted. When they succeed together, they take the time to celebrate the successes (business and personal), build camaraderie and encourage each other to generate more energy for the next success.
Singer Amy Grant once said: “The more you invest in a marriage, the more valuable it becomes.” If you do it right, the same is true for the client / agency relationship.