Like any relationship —be it business or personal —commitment, communication, and respect are required. Working with a public relations agency is no different. There’s a lot that goes into building and maintaining a trustworthy relationship. It all begins with communication.

Communication Is Key

Before you even sign a contract, you should communicate expectations with your PR agency. It’s critical that both you, as the client, and the agency have a clear understanding of and agreement on intended goals and what the measures of success will be.

Think of your goals as S.M.A.R.T. — specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. With this in mind, how do you communicate on specific projects ensuring the end goal is attainable? 

It’s easy for someone to become caught up in their own business and forget to share information with the PR agency. Oftentimes, you’re so familiar with all aspects of a project that small details are left out. However, to have the most success, these small details are crucial.

To help ensure all information is being passed to the PR firm, an agency representative should attend internal planning meetings, so they can keep everyone up to speed. Not only will this help ensure all the information is correct, but it also helps expedite the work on both sides of the business. 

Whether you communicate via email, phone, or in-person, always be sure you’re staying in regular communication with your PR firm. Quick messages can be emailed or texted while in-person (or Zoom) meetings are necessary for planning, messaging, and more strategic conversations. 

It’s also important that the client be honest with the agency team, which means sharing both good and bad news. This way you can work together to move past roadblocks and grow together.

You Need To Commit To The Work

There are two sides to “commitment.” 

The first is the formal commitment of creating terms, scope of work, and financial arrangements. What will the priorities be for the PR agency and your business? You want to align the team’s primary tasks with your operational efforts, which also goes hand-in-hand with the importance of communication.

The second side is that the client and agency need to be committed to creating a successful relationship. There are many aspects that go into making a business run smoothly and PR is only one of them. However, even if it doesn’t seem like a big part of the business, it’s critical that you make time for PR-related activities. 

Part of the commitment to work together also means that there is a point of contact available to answer questions and serve as spokesperson on short notice. When you’re committing to work with a PR agency, these should all be a package deal.

Respect The Agency

The PR agency is an extension of your team. They’re also a partner in your brand. As a partner, the team’s time and counsel should be respected. 

A great PR agency acts as though every client is the only client, but the agency does have commitments beyond your account, so being mindful of their time is important. 

Another way to show your agency respect is to recommend them to colleagues and serve as a reference to help them grow. Their goal is to always help more clients in their PR efforts and these references help them succeed.

In the words of NRPR’s CEO Nicole Rodrigues, to have a successful relationship, “You need a connection, a hint of shared interests, an ability to clearly communicate, a confidence and a spark. When these factors are in place, it becomes exponentially easier to move past the hiccups and disconnects that occur naturally in business.”