The May 3, 2010 BtoB story on Microsoft’s marketing reorganization earlier this year struck me a bit odd. Microsoft is executing a new, more holistic approach with its agencies by working horizontally across all campaigns to be more collaborative. The old Microsoft way was to brief agencies and then wait until they returned with impressive creative.
Collaboration breeds success, and this is why I was taken aback with the Microsoft story. No agency functions well without full disclosure (or close to it) and understanding of a client’s business, services, products, people, stories, and goals. While the Microsoft story in BtoB magazine was about marketing and advertising agencies, a collaborative approach applies across disciplines.
When in a client/agency relationship, public relations succeeds when there’s give and take. I’ve been in a one-way client/agency relationship (as the agency), and it went poorly; nobody wins.
Perhaps there needs to be more understanding how to work a new relationship at the onset. Here are some basic suggestions to put a win-win approach in place when hiring a public relations team:
- Clients should appoint a day-to-day point of contact for the agency. This person should be a middle-manager or director level with some decision-making power.
- The public relations team should be introduced to internal client teams and be allowed some maneuverability within the company.
- Keep public relations teams informed at all times about what’s happening internally. Add outside public relations teams to distribution lists and forward background frequently.
- Feed and fuel the relationship with discussions about current events and how global and national news impact the company.
- Invite the public relations team to internal meetings with marketing and sales.
- Understand that public relations continually develops strategy based on new information. Information sharing keeps high-level strategy and program execution at a fast and results-driven pace.
What other tips can you add to help a client/agency relationship succeed?