The world of PR and communications often finds itself under scrutiny. It’s no stranger to accusations of being fluffy, unnecessary and ineffective. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
The truth is that a good communication agency understands business and knows how to help companies achieve success. They also have the bonus of being exceptional problem solvers with a decent helping of creativity thrown in for good measure.
In a changing world, the reality is that a hard-working communications strategy is essential for companies to succeed.
Businesses of every shape and size will be facing new challenges now – from how to keep remote teams engaged and workers safe, to adapting sales and marketing models, managing brand reputation, getting a step ahead of the competition and protecting their companies from future harm.
Effective communication is the glue that holds these elements together, puts them into action and makes them work – from the heart of the business all the way through to the customer experience and the bottom line. Sadly, it’s an area that’s often handled badly or ignored completely and this can have serious consequences for companies.
Outsourcing your communication requirements can seem daunting. It’s both an investment and a huge leap of faith to trust someone with your business. But before you get bamboozled by all the things an agency tells you they can do to help your business, you probably have questions about what it’s really like to work with one.
Whether you are completely new to the world of communication or sceptical from a negative experience, read on for a list of the most important things you need to know when partnering with an agency.
Ab Fab is so nineties!
It is a huge misconception that PR pros spend their days wining and dining (a chance would be a fine thing!). We care greatly about our clients and the brands they represent, which is why you’ll generally find us grabbing a quick sandwich at our desk, whilst cracking on with the task in-hand. A good agency shouldn’t need to schmooze its way to success.
It’s all about results and as much as we love to socialise, we know you won’t be a client for long if we can’t bring measurable value to your business!
There’s no ‘fluff’ here:
There’s nothing fluffy about meeting your business goals and that is exactly what your agency should be helping you to do.
It’s true that good communication benefits from creative thinking, but even the best ideas won’t make much impact without clear goals, strategic thinking and a comprehensive understanding of how business works.
Most agencies will know how to generate ‘noise’ about your company, but the good ones really understand the nuances within the businesses they represent. These agencies will always work alongside you to identify challenges and solutions before making any noise on your behalf.
Communication is not about who shouts the loudest. It’s about making people take the right action as a result of making the right noise to the right people at the right time.
One team reaching for the same goals:
All PR professionals will have faced scepticism and it isn’t uncommon for agencies to find themselves kept at arms’ length or ignored by the very people who have recruited them to help with their business.
We understand that it can take time to build meaningful relationships, but you definitely won’t get the best from your agency if you don’t let them into the heart of your business. It’s important to share the highs, the lows and everything in-between. The more your agency knows about your business, the better they will be.
Don’t be alarmed if a prospective agency asks a lot of questions about the integral workings of your company. This is a good sign! It demonstrates their commercial understanding and an ability to look critically at all elements of your business rather than focusing on the ‘fluff’.
Professional agencies will treat your business as if it were their own and are bound by strict rules of confidentiality. There should be no egos involved. It’s all about working together to achieve the same goals – your success is our success!
We’re not expensive:
Buying the expertise of an agency requires investment but if you get the right people onboard, your comms activity should never be a cost to the business.
Don’t fall into the trap of buying on price alone. If an agency is promising you the earth for minimal investment you should be seeing red flags rather than a good deal.
The best in the profession will be realistic about the investment required but will know how to deliver the activity your business really needs to achieve success.
It’s easy to get drawn into all of the exciting ideas an agency will undoubtedly have, but if they aren’t focusing on the outcomes their ideas will deliver, alarm bells should ring.
Most agencies will struggle to provide an accurate quote without having a discussion with you first. Don’t let this put you off. A good agency understands this is a necessary step in the process and will never push you into making a purchase.
An initial chat doesn’t waste our time. It simply gives us the information we need to create the right solution at the right level of investment for your business.
It’s a good thing that we’ll never understand your business as well as you do!
It’s true that an agency will never understand your business as well as those on the inside do, but having valued support from the outside of your business can give you a big advantage.
The beauty of an outsourced agency is their ability to be completely immersed within your business, whilst remaining objective. Internal teams tend to get so close to the businesses they work in and this can cause an absence of fresh ideas and difficulty identifying issues.
Not only will an agency bring new ideas to the table, they will also be armed with vast amounts of experience gained from working with a multitude of different businesses and industry sectors.
The majority of agencies will have similar services on offer, and most will deliver what they promise.
The success of bringing an external resource into your business will largely depend on the relationship you establish with them. You don’t need to become best friends with your agency, but you should like and trust the people you are choosing to bring into your business.
You will typically be working with a team of three to four people from an agency. This brings huge benefits as you get instant access to huge amounts of knowledge and experience. But you should be given the opportunity to meet your account team before you buy.
It’s perfectly reasonable to assess the personal chemistry between you and your agency before making a purchase. Always listen to your gut instinct. It’s there for a reason and if something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore it. You need to find the right fit for you and your business.
Don’t expect miracles overnight:
The right agency will have a positive impact on your business, but even the best of the best can’t perform instant miracles.
Establishing the issues, working on the solutions and putting them into practice should take a bit of time. Rushing in without any prior thought may seem like the right way to go, but it’s important to think long term.
Whatever your challenges are, you will be looking to drive meaningful and long lasting change of some kind and this doesn’t happen overnight. You should expect to see your agency working away in the background, but achieving the end result can take weeks, or even months, depending on what your looking to achieve.
Always give your agency a good six months to prove their worth to you.