Our Ultimate PR Agency Relationship Checklist

  • October 14, 2022
  • Reading time: 4 min

If you’ve been poking around our website, you may have noticed we have a pretty sizeable B2B PR team made up of people of different backgrounds, specialties, age, and experience (I for one have been in PR for more years than I am willing to admit outside of a pitch room). We’ve all worked across a range of accounts and managed our fair share of clients. In fact, some of us have been clients! And through our shared experience, we’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to client-agency relationships.

One thing all these partnerships have in common is the initial honeymoon phase. Once contracts are signed and soak sessions are done, everyone is filled with a sense of anticipation and excitement. Creativity flows freely, ideas quickly turn into pitches and there is a frenzy of activity as the PR team gets up and running. Most of the time, momentum builds and clients and agencies work together for a long time like a well-oiled machine.

But sometimes the honeymoon ends and the relationship goes downhill pretty quickly. Based on our experience, this is usually due to a lack of alignment between the client and the agency. So, what can you do to ensure you develop a positive partnership with your PR agency?  Behold, our Ultimate Agency Relationship Checklist. Stick to this, and you’re giving yourself every chance for a long and successful agency relationship.

Have clear, shared goals

First things first. What problem are you trying to solve? Only by answering this question can you make plans for change and understand the strategy and tactics that will get you there.

Is it an awareness challenge, or is it more about perception? Has your business changed, but your reputation lagged behind? What about credibility? Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll be in a good position to develop a brief (in writing, ideally!) which will clearly set out what you need to do and what results you want to achieve.

Don’t expect your brief to be set in stone, though. A solid PR agency will challenge it, try to poke some holes in it – in the nicest way possible – and ask loads of questions to ensure they’ve clearly understood your needs and expectations. Through an open, honest conversation both you and the agency can ensure you’re on the same page and that there is a solid foundation on which to build a successful PR programme.

Is there a spark?

You don’t randomly hire a new team member, do you? Your agency team should ultimately be an extension of your own. So, as well as reviewing pitch decks, case studies and referrals, take your time and consider their culture fit, experience, planning, organisation and crucially, whether you get on well with them. Any PR agency worth their weight will assess you in a similar way. After all, a good relationship is one where both parties know they can work well together to reach their goals. 

Trust each other

In the words of Stephen Covey: “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” You’ve hired your PR agency for a reason – and they’ve signed an NDA. Arming the team with data and giving them access to key spokespeople will ensure they have the information they need to tell your story and do so well. At some point – hopefully sooner, rather than later – you need to take the plunge. Believe in their expertise, take on board their advice and give them leeway to get the job done.

Be honest and available

Building strong relationships, be it personal or professional, starts with being open, approachable and transparent. I know this sounds really cheesy, but it’s true. There are any number of ways to have regular, honest conversations about what’s working well and what isn’t – team catch ups on a weekly or monthly basis; one on one conversations with the team lead; satisfaction surveys. Whatever option floats your boat (you might want to do them all!) make sure these check-ins are happening and are being constructive. 

Keep things fresh

What does it mean to challenge the status quo? Google offers up 83,100,000 results on the subject. Because we know you’re busy and don’t have time to read all those articles, let us summarise what this translates into in the realm of PR: Be enthusiastic and creative. Don’t be afraid to push boundaries, speak up and present your ideas in an unconventional way. That’s it (take that, Google).

Keep talking

Everyone on your agency’s team is sure to be a rockstar when it comes to knowing what industry topics are highest on the news agenda and how to create content to attract the attention of key influencers. But you must remember – they are PR experts, not industry thought leaders.

What’s going to set you apart from your competitors and really grab your audience’s attention is your spokespeople’s unique take on wider market trends. They will have insights your PR team does not and can therefore add an extra bit of sparkle to the content they create.  Being able to work with experts who understand the value of PR and can make themselves available for a few minutes when a good opportunity arises will ensure your team has everything they need to cut through the noise.

Not to brag too much, but at OG we pride ourselves on having a good track record of working well with our clients. We’re not going to lie, it takes work, time and dedication on everyone’s part. But if you apply our checklist, you can give your agency relationship every chance of becoming a flourishing and long-term partnership.

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