By Leslie Clavin, Vice President, Editorial Services
One of the best parts of agency life is the wide array of clients — companies and people — we get to work with on a daily basis. That said, cool technologies and smart people don’t always equate to a strong PR program. The client-agency relationship does.
The most successful engagements are those in which SHIFTers are considered part of the client’s internal team; it enables real collaboration, mutual partnership and the setting for transparent communication — in good times as well as challenging ones.
While every client-agency relationship is unique, here are four tips to strengthen your PR agency relationship:
Give us the (real) 411
NDAs are standard issue for agencies. We can’t properly advise on the right strategy if we don’t have the whole picture, warts and all. Bring your senior advisors in early in the preparation for any merger or acquisition activity, quarterly earnings announcements, executive shakeups, or other sensitive news. Nine times out of 10, they’ve been through a similar situation with another client. They can foresee potential communications landmines and how to avoid them. It’s much easier to plan early and proactively than play catchup once an issue sees the light.
Help us build direct relationships with your stakeholders
Related to the above point, connect us with the right internal stakeholders, subject matter experts and executives directly. Getting information second- or thirdhand through the internal communications team is rarely successful. So much can get lost in translation. Give the team the opportunity to ask follow-up questions that an internal team might not think to ask. Allow your agency to have positive working relationships with your executives and spokespeople. It’s helpful for the team to know what makes them tick as people (outside of their area of expertise) when pitching them to the media.
Let us grow with you
Over the years, SHIFT has worked with clients of all sizes — from small, scrappy startups just coming out of stealth mode to global, publicly traded organizations. Some of our favorite long-term engagements have been with early-stage startups that have gone on to lead and change industries. Watching their impact on the market, as well as having a front row seat (and role) in the company’s growth is incredibly rewarding. This is the proof of a great agency relationship.
Look to us for more than earned media
While most clients come to SHIFT for earned media, we also offer services across the marketing spectrum. When first engaging with a firm — as early as an initial RFP input call — be open to other strategies or services to achieve your communications objectives. We have paid and social media specialists, content teams, creative types, researchers and other resources that can help clients reach the audiences clients want to influence. Sometimes what’s needed is earned media. But often, a client’s overarching marketing goals need different or added support, such as content creation to drive leads into the funnel. Or an investor relations specialist in the ramp to an IPO. Or, on a less positive note, crisis experts who can help navigate when a brand is dealing with a negative issue.
Interested in seeing what a SHIFT team might look like for your company? Interested in developing an agency relationship so your team will go to bat for you on the daily? Let’s talk!
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