In my time working in PR I have been both an agency guy, as I am again now, and also a client, when I worked at Microsoft.
I learnt a hell of a lot during my time inhouse about managing agencies and made a hell of a lot of mistakes. To the wonderful teams I worked with at The Red Consultancy, Three Monkeys, Weber Shandwick UK and Inferno sorry for those mistakes. However I would like to think I learnt along the way and was better at it by the end than I was at the start.
For those managing agencies at the moment, or for those planning on heading in there in the near future, my colleague George F Snell III (isn’t that a brilliant name!), has compiled a list of ten ways you can be a better client.
Read the full list at the link above, but my favourite ones are:
Snarling never gets the job done. So imagine what happens when you decide not to send terse emails, leave rude voicemails or scold people at meetings? You get a better and stronger relationship.
Not even Houdini could read minds.
Your PR team can’t deliver the results you expect if you haven’t articulated them. Be direct. Tell them what your expectations are and then put it in writing. When everyone is on the same page there are no surprises.
Micromanaging = bad relationships.
Do you really need to read every single media pitch? Do you want to be cc’ed on every email among the team? When everyone can focus on their duties – the job generally gets done better.
Reading through the list though I think there are a few more that could be added.
The client can be wrong
As the client you will not always be right. You may insist on a strategy that doesn’t work out, perhaps even against the better judgement of your agency. If this does happen admit your mistake and work on how the situation can be rectified. A client is not infallible and should not pretend to be.
Clients do not have to be smarter than your agency
Don’t assume you always need to know all the answers. Even when you think you know the answer ask the advice of your team – their response may be a better solution or lead to a better collaborative outcome.
Don’t hold grudges
When mistakes are made on the agency side, address them, put in places measures to limit potential for reoccurrence and then move on.
Big up your agency internally and CC them
Ensure that the people internally recognise the good work your agency does. This will not take the limelight away from you, it will simply reinforce the great work you are responsible for and will ensure your team feels valued.
Any other additions you can think of adding to the list?