At the Public Relations Organization International (PROI) conference held in Denver last month, I had the opportunity to hear from a panel of in-house, senior-level communications professionals who spoke about what they hope to get out of agency partnerships. Each of the panelists previously worked for creative agencies themselves, providing for unique insight and surprisingly simple answers. Below are the top three things this expert panel asks of agency partners.
Yes, all of the panelists subscribe to the relevant trade magazines and follow the trendsetters on Twitter – but just like us their days get filled with meetings and the issue du jour. As an agency, it’s likely you already have at least one person keeping their eye on the latest trends that could affect your communications strategies. Create a list of clients to keep on your desk and as you’re scanning the news, think about how those clients might be impacted. Whether it’s a trend the client could engage with via a blog or social media post, a new tool they could test with their next campaign, or a competitor’s news clip the client’s executive team might like to see – be that extra set of eyes and ears. A simple email with a hyperlink could really make a difference in your client’s day!
Despite varying budget, time and operational constraints, all of the panelists enjoy working with agencies that think big. This doesn’t mean ignoring a client’s specific request, but all agreed that agencies that think outside the box and bring creative ideas to the table are valuable partners. Opportunities to think big include scouting out unique brand partnerships, or ideating around a crazy stunt that puts their product or service in the spotlight. Don’t lose sight of the core audience and the business drivers – and certainly don’t harp on an idea the client declines. That said, if a client can’t act on a big idea they love in that moment, knowing the agency can think big and is willing and able to activate when an idea is approved is a benefit to the client.
A Good Relationship
It seems simple, but cultivating a good relationship with the client is key. Agencies that know the client as well as – maybe even better than – some of its employees are invaluable. The impact of face-to-face meetings whenever possible can’t be measured, and thoughtful notes or even quick texts at a meaningful moment can make a lasting impression. GFM founder Laura Love places high value on the “Last Five Minutes”, both for employees and for clients. This panel confirmed that small gestures made by thoughtful agencies add up, and a strong relationship paired with strategic thinking and measurable performance is a recipe for success.