Do you already work with an external marketing or PR agency? Or are you thinking of working with an external agency?

If so, read on to find out my top tips for getting the most out of this relationship…

Getting the right fit

I find that if the ‘right fit’ isn’t there from the start, then all the tips below are irrelevant!

For example, are you looking for an all-bells-and-whistles larger agency that will wow you with funky offices, a team of people to work on your every business requirement (and potentially a price tag to match!)?  Or, would you prefer to work with a smaller agency or freelance consultant that will certainly deliver on price, although may lack the resources of the larger agency?  Or perhaps you’re looking for an agency that already has proven experience in your business field? Would you like to have one named contact to liaise with? Or a team that deals with different aspects of the service?  Whatever your preferences, make sure your agency is the right fit for your business!

Does your agency guarantee results?

If so, they shouldn’t!  Marketing and PR isn’t based on scientific formulas, so marketing or PR results can’t be guaranteed.  However, they can give you realistic expectations based on experience and overall industry stats. 

Have you set out your expectations?

This one is tricky to get right.  You don’t want to set your targets too high, leaving both the agency and client unhappy or frustrated if they can’t be reached.   Equally, targets that are too low may not keep your agency focussed on getting the most results for you.  Setting realistic targets or objectives is the best way forward for both parties.  You may find that the targets need to be adjusted from time to time, in line with industry standards or on-the-job experience.  However, it is essential to set targets so that both parties know what they’re aiming towards.

Be open

If an aspect of the relationship isn’t working, then the best policy is to be open and air any concerns.  This way, you are giving the agency an opportunity to resolve any issues quickly.  For example, if you’d like the agency to keep an updated record of the budget spent to date and give you regular updates, then ask!  Or, if you want to be updated more regularly on an aspect of the service, do let the agency know…  Equally, if there is a element of the work that you’re extremely happy with, the agency will also appreciate this feedback!

Have a specific person to communicate with

In my experience, having one (or possibly 2) named client contacts for the agency to report to makes the communication a lot easier.  For example, when looking to gain approval on a piece of artwork, a press release or a blog, having a specific person allocated that is responsible for this job is essential.  It will make the process a lot simpler and more accountable going forward.

Keep in regular contact

Some companies may think this is a waste of time and money, although in my experience, this is an essential part of the service.  The updates ensure that the agency is keeping on track with the job in hand and it is also invaluable for the client to give any company/ strategy updates to the agency.  For example, for 2 days per month retainer, I find that weekly conference calls with the client and quarterly face-to-face presentations work well.  This helps us to keep in regular contact whilst keeping costs in check.

In summary

There are many more tips that I can give for getting the most out of a client-agency working relationship, although the ones above are the key ones.  Having a well functioning working relationship keeps the client and agency happy, resulting in great work!

Blog written by Emma Estridge, Director at Mushroom Marketing & PR

Do get in touch if you are interested in finding out more about working with an external PR agency…