I believe in the power of PR, and I happily live and breathe it every day. One of my greatest joys of working for a PR firm is meeting, serving and getting to know various clients. Over the years, I’ve learned how critical it is that my clients and I love everything there is to know about public relations. In other words, we both have to sip the proverbial Kool-Aid.
Here are a few tips on how to make an agency relationship work… when you’re a client.
Seek (and provide) clarity
The PR agency/client relationship is a delicate one, in that both parties should have established goals they hope to meet through the partnership. The pressure is on to deliver – on both sides! This means that open, honest and sometimes difficult conversations must continuously take place to ensure clarity and understanding. Relationships usually go downhill because of either a) lack of communication or b) misguided assumptions. Both can make for an unhealthy outcome. If you have an expectation of your partner firm, express it. If you don’t understand something, share that. And if you’re not sure that your needs are being met, speak up. A great agency partner will welcome this level of candor and work alongside you to address your concerns.
Many PR professionals have thick skin, so we can take the “heat.” It usually comes with the territory. When we onboard a new client at Obsidian, one of the most important points that we make is the more feedback, the better – especially in the early stages of our partnership. A solid firm will seek to become ingrained in their clients’ business model and operations, so much so that they’re no longer viewed as a third party, rather as an extension of their own team. This can only be accomplished by exchanging regular feedback. Whether it be a critique of a written piece of communication, a specific tone of voice that you want to strike or a deliverable that missed the mark, all types of feedback should be shared with your PR firm.
We all have extremely busy lives, and they seemed to get even busier during the pandemic, am I right? However, to truly get the full effect of a PR agency relationship and its benefits, our clients must be available. From participating in regular check-in meetings to reviewing our work and doing media interviews, our industry moves fast. And, we need our clients to be ready to move as swiftly as possible. When we’re moving in lockstep with one another, that’s when the magic happens. Trust me, you’ll feel it!
A PR agency/client relationship is a beautiful thing. But just as in any relationship, it should be nurtured by all parties involved. When it’s done right, you’ll be hard pressed to remember a time when you didn’t have that agency by your side.