On a day devoted to relationships, I have a few gifts for companies that want to get the most out of their relationship with their PR agency. Chocolate and flowers are always appreciated (as is food – clients that send a lunch after a big launch or placement are remembered for years) but here are some things that don’t cost a thing but will keep the flames alive between agency and client.
Overshare. This is sometimes seen as a relationship killer but not here. By providing your agency with as much information as possible you can help to spark new ideas, campaigns and pitches. So tell them about what your sales people are hearing in meetings, tell them about the changes you’re considering making to the product, relay the conversation the CEO had with potential investors. You may not think there’s value in sharing this information but your agency will.
Spend quality time together. You probably already meet with your agency for status meetings and you may even bring them in for quarterly planning sessions or for a major launch kick-offs. But when was the last time you brought the key people from your agency into just kick around ideas with your marketing team? I know budgets can be an issue but a good agency is interested in ways to keep a relationship fresh and the ideas flowing so they may work with you on this (a good agency may even recommend the meetings).
Be open to trying new things. Your agency spends time (or should) evaluating new tools, looking at new angles and keep their pulse on the market. They should be coming to you with these and making recommendations. Most clients I’ve worked with are open to trying new things but I’ve also worked with small companies where they are already so stretched that changing anything about the program seems daunting. But listen to the ideas anyway. Not every one will be a fit; but someday one will be. And if you like the ideas but can’t do them right now, let the agency know that too.
Let them know how you really feel. No client/agency relationship is perfect but the best ones have an open dialogue. You invested a lot in finding an agency and bringing them up to speed and it’s important that you let them know when things are going well and when they aren’t. A good agency will be checking-in regularly but even in those cases there can be a cycle between the check-in and issues coming up. When that happens let the right person at the agency know your concerns and tell them what you need to fix it. Let’s face it, confrontation isn’t easy. But far better to bring up something before it leads to a break-up.
The great thing about all of these “gifts” is they can be used for every holiday and for birthdays too. Do you have any to add to the list?