Public Relations

5 Ways to Build a Better Relationship with Your PR Agency

By Katie Creaser | On March 18, 2015

My absolute favorite thing about my job is my relationships with Affect’s clients – and it always has been. Although I don’t play favorites, the best clients are the ones that view our agency as a true partner and extension of their marketing and communications team. It’s easy to do great work for companies that have confidence in the work that we do.
That said, PR is a service industry and I’ve been in the game long enough to have seen clients come and go for a variety of reasons. As an agency, it’s our job to think about ways to improve our relationships so that we can provide our clients with as much value as possible – but it’s also important that our clients help to set us up for success. In short, like any other relationship, the one between agency and client needs to be based on mutual respect and trust.
Based on my passion for client relations and my experience with companies of all types and sizes –  here are a few tips on how to get the most value from your relationship with your PR agency:
1. Have Confidence in Your Decision: Hiring a PR agency isn’t an easy process – and once you’ve made your decision it’s important to start the relationship on a positive note. Feel confident in your agency choice and their expertise. This will empower your PR team to hit the ground running as a strategic advisor and to provide you with the expert counsel that you hired them for. Remember, your agency is excited to work with you and wants to give you their best work as a partner to your organization.
2. Treat Your Agency Like a New Employee: When you make a new hire – training is critical. It’s the same for your agency. Give your PR team access to your marketing plan, product roadmap and demos, past PR efforts and upcoming campaigns. Introduce your team to your company’s leadership and spokespeople. You should also communicate what has previously worked from a PR perspective and what hasn’t. The first 30 days of your relationship should be about training, learning and openly communicating about your new PR strategy.
3. Set Expectations and Metrics Early: It’s impossible to be successful without clear expectations and metrics to work towards. Expectations need to be set early, even before your contract is signed, to ensure that your agency is aware of your goals and objectives. It’s also important to work in collaboration with your agency to create a metrics dashboard within the first 30 days of working together. Revisit the dashboard and metrics on a monthly basis and communicate any adjustments that need to be made in real-time. This will help ensure that your agency consistently delivers ROI.
4. Ask Your Agency What They Need to Be Successful: Whenever Affect is working with a new client, we create wish list of assets, content and relationships that we will need to garner the most success from our PR efforts. If you haven’t already, it could be a worthwhile endeavor to ask your PR team what they need to secure the type of media coverage that you are looking for. You may be surprised at how creative and insightful the answers are – and how they can lead to the coverage you’ve been hoping for.
5. Stop Drinking the Koolaid (Or Be Willing to Try Another Flavor): Working with a PR agency can bring a fresh, third-party perspective to your communications strategy – but only if you allow it. Agencies are often challenged to achieve results despite a company’s unwillingness to understand how the media works and what kind of information journalists are hoping to receive. It’s not always possible to do everything your agency asks – but there is a benefit to out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to your PR strategy. Use your PR agency to help you think more broadly about the story that your company has to tell.
I’m interested in hearing the other side of this conversation – what are ways that your agency can build a better relationship with you as a client? How can we work together successfully to create long term, successful and enjoyable relationships?

Katie Creaser

Katie is a senior vice president at Affect, where she provides counsel to clients that are looking to bring PR and social media into their communications program as part of a thoughtful, holistic strategy. Katie works closely with Affect’s technology and healthcare clients to ensure that their value resonates with customers by creating compelling content for every medium. Prior to joining Affect, Katie served as assistant program manager for the Capital Roundtable, an event production company for the private equity, investment banking, venture capital, legal, hedge fund and professional advisory communities in New York City.