Here are five tips on how to build synergies and get the best out of your PR agencies.

1. Have an onboarding process 

There should be a non-negotiable one-week onboarding process with all agencies – preferably at the same time. During this process, the client takes the agency through brand CI, how to use the logos and generic do’s and don'ts.

As a client, you should be presenting best practice examples and case studies to the agency as well as previous awards won. That way, you're setting expectations upfront.

This also makes it very clear that you acknowledge this work as the benchmark, and these are the awards you've won because of it. Now it’s the agency's turn to carry the baton. People are not as scared once they know that it has been done before.

The agencies need to present their discipline to you for there to be a thorough understanding. People who don’t work in PR don’t understand what it is, the same way people who don’t work in digital don’t understand why a GIF cannot be created in a minute or two.

2. Have a brief prepared

This is a vitally important element in any client-agency relationship and it’s, unfortunately, a process that is often not followed. The work you receive is only as good as the brief you give.

Spend one hour developing a detailed agency brief in order to save yourself six hours’ worth of reverts.

Be human and have realistic expectations. This means that you should try to avoid, for example, sending a brief at 16:00 on a Friday for a presentation that's at 09:00 on a Monday. This should be the exception, not the rule and, unfortunately, this is not true among many agencies.

Too often, clients think ‘but it’s their job’. This is your wakeup call – that thinking doesn’t fly anymore. It’s outdated, unrealistic and downright offensive. Don’t assume that work will take president over an employee’s personal life.

Once an employee feels undervalued or exploited, you’ve lost the IP you’ve invested into them, as well as the loyalty and creativity that comes with that individual, as they’re going to start seeking employment elsewhere.

3. Make time for face-time

If you are the client and your business pays for an employee to be a dedicated resource on your account, have a few hot spot desks at the office for your agencies to sit at. Allow them to come in two days a week.

They need to come in with an agenda of tasks they need approval on, ideas they want to present, etc. Schedule all your meetings for this day, too. You’ll be amazed at how quickly tasks move forward and how much you cut back on emails.

4. Acknowledge your agency

Some clients have this idea that they are superior, and the agency is a machine who just must do these unrealistic tasks, with no time or budget available – that you can speak to them however you please. 

Get this idea out of your head. Together with a brand, the company has hired you both to reach a common goal and you need to see your agency as a partner.

Thank them and acknowledge them for the work they do. A simple ‘Hey, I saw you worked on this proposal all weekend, thank you so much, we appreciate it’ will suffice. Show people that their efforts are not going unnoticed. That is how you build loyalty that you cannot buy.

5. Be clear about your KPI’s

Be very clear with an agency about the business's KPI’s from the start. Detail which campaigns need to be knocked out of the park, which ones you usually excel in and which ones no one expects you to do well in.

At the end of the day, a mutually beneficial relationship comes down to respect and empowerment. Respecting someone’s craft and their time and empowering them to create award-winning work. Now go on and live happily ever after.

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*Image courtesy of Vecteezy