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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…

Get the right PR agency fit

All the tips below are relevant if the ‘right fit’ isn’t there from the start!

For example, are you looking for an all-bells-and-whistles larger PR agency that will wow you with funky offices, a team of people to work with (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 not have the resources of the larger agency?  You may be looking for an agency that already has proven experience in your business field. Or perhaps you prefer to have one named contact to liaise with? Make sure your agency is the right fit for your business, whatever your preferences!

Does your marketing or PR 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 their experience and overall industry stats. 

Have you set out your expectations with your PR agency?

This one is tricky to get right, although essential.  If the targets are set too high to be met, both the agency and client will be unhappy.   Equally, targets that are too low may not keep your agency focussed on getting the best results for you.  Setting realistic targets or objectives is the best way forward for both parties.  In line with industry standards and on-the-job experience, targets also need to be adjusted from time to time.  For example, you might want to gain editorial coverage in specific selected media titles. Or perhaps you want to achieve a set % increase of inbound links to your website as a result of the work.  Whatever your aims are, make sure you communicate this, helping to deliver the most suitable results for your business.  

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 a specific 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

Having one or two named client contacts for the PR agency reporting makes communication a lot easier.  When getting approval on a piece of artwork, have a specific person allocated that is responsible for this job.  It will make the process a lot simpler, quicker and more accountable going forward.

Keep in regular contact

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

In summary

Having a well functioning working relationship keeps the client and agency happy, resulting in great work.  

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

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

You might also like to read this article with guidelines for better in-house/ consultancy relationships, written by the CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations)