How to Optimize Your Client-Agency Relationship
- Cailin Cowley
Maintaining positive relationships with clients is imperative for communication agencies like ours. Not only does it make the work enjoyable, but a solid client-agency relationship founded on trust and transparency is critical to ensuring agencies deliver on their promises and clients get the results they are looking for.
Agencies need to be able to adjust to the shifting landscape, no matter how the company expands and changes.
To get a sense of what strategies others have found success with, I recently attended an event hosted by Pub Club, “Cultivating Successful Client-Agency Relationships”, that invited PR pros and their in-house marketing contacts to shed light on what makes their partnerships work. The panelists offered great insights and underscored the importance of focusing on new ways to build trust and deliver the best work for clients. The conversation offered some great reminders, and a few of the biggest takeaways were:
Open communication is key
Karen Pevenstein, Director of Public Relations at Liberty Mutual Insurance, said that transparency is key in developing trust. As she has partnered with her external PR team, something that has been important for her is knowing that her agency cares about her company’s best interest. One of the ways that an agency can do this is through creating a dialogue. Rather than just accepting everything that the client says as law, agencies shouldn’t be afraid to share their opinion as well. At BackBay, we make sure to always support our clients while also offering valuable advice as they’re looking to strengthen their external communications. An open conversation is great for idea generation, which ends up creating the best results.
Be an extension of their marketing department
Agencies should know their clients inside and out as they offer guidance on how to position them in the market. Agencies and clients may be two separate entities, but we are both working toward the same goal and should be aligned on what trends and projects the firm should be focusing on. At BackBay, we’re in constant communication with our clients’ marketing teams to ensure that we’re all aligned on the company’s priorities and goals. In that sense, we’re an extension of their marketing department, offering support in various capacities to spread their company’s mission and message.
Rather than waiting for a client to bring something up with you first, be proactive. All of the in-house marketing panelists emphasized how crucial it is to be one step ahead, offering incisive insight into the market and into what they should be doing to stay ahead. Anticipate what the client is going through so that your communication efforts are as effective and impactful as possible. Sara Eberle, Senior PR Manager at Sophos, said that agencies need to be able to adjust to the shifting landscape, no matter how the company expands and changes.
Since BackBay exclusively works with financial services clients, our teams are able to develop in-depth expertise in their respective sectors (i.e. private equity, asset management, and fintech). This gives us the ability to be immersed in our clients’ industries, and we’re constantly aware of relevant trends so that we can alert clients of industry changes. It’s best to bring these new items up early so that clients can have a voice in the conversation. Additionally, it enables both the agency and the client to have as much lead time as possible to strategize on how to respond to a trend.