They say there’s always two sides to a story, but one of the perennial gripes of working with external suppliers is there always seems to be a honeymoon period followed by a relationship that just seems to lose its sparkle.
But who’s to blame? The PR agency? The client? Or is it all just down to expectation management?
We all know that the early part of a relationship of any sort is filled with wonder and excitement as both sides get to learn about each other – it’s all fresh, new and full of interest. So where can it all go wrong?
Let’s start with expectations
The agency is on parade from day one; wanting to get to grips as quickly as possible with the client’s business and eager to understand how they make a difference in their industry. Keen to please. Working to impress. Your agency is firing on all cylinders with the big guns pointed in your direction.
This is the time when the tone is set for the campaign and the message coalesces into that killer pitch to the media. If an agency fails to impress at this stage, then alarm bells should be ringing and you need to be running for the hills!
Now the bar has been set really high for the rest of the campaign and the agency has the effort turned up to level 10, despite the fact that you, as the client, are actually only paying for level 5. It’s a rock and a hard place.
All agencies need to invest heavily in the early part of a relationship – not because they want to set unrealistic expectations – but because they need to put in the time up front to make sure the campaign sets off in the right direction and their client is supplying them with the tools to hit the target.
A good agency will be setting the expectation well at this point with clear insights into what happens day one, week one, and on all the key dates thereafter. If there is not a clear launch work plan outlined from the outset with very clear deadlines and touch points from the agency, then here is another reason to head for the hills. Too many agencies rely on woolly deliverables and opaque timescales. If you can’t see them outlined, ask. If you don’t like what you get, you know what to do!
Of course, there are those agencies out there who expect to be swapped out on an annual basis and act accordingly – knowing that over-servicing in the early days is naturally followed by a period of coasting and then, ultimately, of being moved along. Probably best to avoid those – but how? The easiest way is to ask to speak to some of the their clients that have been around a while and see how much “loving” they are still getting. Simple.
Continue reading on page two to find out how to change things around…
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