Just as communication is central to conducting business through sales, client management, and internally with employees, regular and consistent communication between businesses and agencies is vital. Typically, agencies assign an account management team to help streamline communication. Within this team is usually a point of contact that acts as the main liaison and the first person you should contact with any questions, ideas or comments.
Communication can take on many forms with an agency specific to what the client prefers. Often times, agencies will be open to communicate through email, phone calls, skype or zoom, and applications like Slack and Twist. It is important for both the agency and your business to determine the best and fastest way to communicate. Understanding what communication tool is best for you is important to communicate to the agency early so they can accommodate your preferred communication style. This will allow both you and the agency to work efficiently to reach goals.
Additionally, while an agency and its employees are being hired as the experts in their field to help your business grow, they also require quick, on-time responses from your business in urgent matters. When an agency asks your business for information, whether it be getting materials for social media, arranging press interviews, or getting approval for blog posts or design mock ups, it is your responsibility to share that information expeditiously. Prompt communication is the best kind of communication when working with an agency. Remember that in public relations and digital marketing, nothing is guaranteed. Responding quickly and providing all of the necessary information to an agency is the best way to stack all of the odds in your favor.
There are two primary ways to achieve accountability in the client-agency relationship: through a contract and through regular checkpoints. First, the contract should outline the scope of the work, the timeline, the budget and the checkpoints. If you expect to have weekly check-ins with your agency but never tell them that, then it’s likely not going to happen. If you’d prefer only a monthly meeting to go over accomplishments and plans, put that in the contract. Without this being outlined, both sides can fall short of reaching goals in an appropriate amount of time.
On the agency side, the account manager in charge of a small business’s account should make sure the business is doing its ‘homework’ and getting the necessary materials the agency needs to them in a timely manner. On the client side, the business should hold the agency accountable for any work that may not be getting done to the standard of the client, particularly as outline and promised in the contract.
Agencies are by nature collaborative businesses. Employees of agencies thrive on bouncing ideas back and forth on each other and brainstorming in group ideation sessions. In fact, it’s likely the creative and collaborative expertise of agencies that led you to hire one to help with your business. To keep this collaboration going, it is imperative that businesses are part of the collaborative process. This means that businesses should actively engage in the work that is being done by the agency and giving feedback frequently.
In a collaborative setting, every person, both agency and client, will have something to do. Agencies can only do so much work without collaboration from the client. Whether this be the client providing the necessary content to be strategically used by the agency, the agency file sharing with the client or updating calendars on both ends. Remember that the client-agency relationship is a partnership and the best partnerships rely on collaboration.
Trust, similar to communication, is the heart of all relationships. In a client-agency relationship, the client should trust that the agency is the experts in their field of services and industry and should trust the agency to provide the services that are agreed upon. Likewise, the agency should trust that the client will provide the necessary materials on their end to keep the working relationship strong. Although your business might be an industry-leader, there’s a reason your business is reaching out to an agency and that reason is likely because you need help with your PR and digital marketing efforts. Trust that the agency you selected is right for the job and has good ideas. Change is always difficult, but don’t let your fear or discomfort with change lead you to mistrust your agency’s expertise.