How the Client / Agency Relationship Should Look
Some companies buy into the myth that successful PR can happen by accident, by magic or inside a vacuum. I’m here to tell you just how untrue that myth is. As positioning agents, we want to make our clients’ stories the very best they can be. We want to have their brands heard and seen and used by as many as possible, and we want to help them elevate their work in the most widespread and meaningful of ways.
However, it is not usually a successful exchange when the client and agency aren’t in alignment ahead of time on the process, goals and messaging. We have learned how to identify the qualities that make a client a strong fit, and we have worked with game-changing executives who’ve shown us just how much an enterprise-level company can do when they put PR as a priority. From that experience, we are happy to share are a few key strategies that help ensure the process is seamless, successful and ultimately enjoyable for both parties: cooperation, chemistry, communication, collaboration and sometimes, the inclusion of the PR team on an operational level. Here are a few examples of how to utilize those practices to be an all-star client:
- Cooperation – Abinash Tripathy, CEO of Helpshift, is a true team-minded businessman. Despite being just as busy as any executive running an International, enterprise-class company, he still finds time to connect directly with our team at regular intervals and with great transparency. A major tipping point for our work with him was during Helpshift’s Series B funding announcement preparation. He happened to be in India at the time, but he knew we had one shot to make this massive announcement valuable for the business, press and investors. He wanted to make sure all of the big players in his space (financial media, business media, tech or mobile media) had the opportunity to hear from him about what the funding news meant for the future of the Company. He made himself immensely available to speak to any press who wanted to learn more about the announcement, whether that translated into 1 a.m. phone calls, or six interviews in a row. For a good, solid two weeks, Abinash was all ours. It made our lives so much easier, and it gave the story wings. Because of him acting as the main voice and storyteller for that announcement, we had almost 125 press hits worldwide (between us and the PR team in India) that brought major attention to the Company and new business leads. His extraordinary cooperation strengthened our chemistry, respect and trust for his company. Abinash continues to be active on the PR side and has certainly set the bar (in my mind) for other executives seeking out our services. Those who make too many excuses about why they can’t be involved in PR because of their schedules should take notes from Abinash!
- Chemistry – Speaking of chemistry, you’ll quickly learn in business that not all money is good money, especially if a client has no interest in treating your team well. Jenny Q. Ta, CEO & Co-Founder of VCNetwork.co, is a killer example of an executive who first vets her team thoroughly, then treats those she chooses like family. She looks out for her business partner, Shinta, like a sister, and will suss through opportunities to ensure they are an equally good fit for both women. To us, she is more than a client. She is a friend. We’ll go to dinner to discuss the matters at hand, and I can be comfortable and candid with her when situations get sticky. We’ve even attended a concert and other fun nights out together. It’s that show of respect and sacrifice of ego on the part of the executive that creates an atmosphere of openness, involvement and camaraderie with the PR team. It reminds you that you are a part of their team, rather than an outsourced hire only needed to place pieces in the press, and that consideration goes a long way.
- Communication – We’ve said it before, every client/company should always designate a point-person for the PR team to directly communicate with. AdaPia d’Errico, CMO of Patch of Land, is the epitome of a high-ranking internal point-person. She made the process seamless. She granted us access to any asset or executive we needed to secure a story or a meeting. She trusted us enough to include us in internal communications and developments, in real-time. Our opinions were asked, where needed, and we were always thought of. Because of this, in one year’s time, Patch of Land went from being fairly unknown in its competitive space (and definitely new to media), to getting nearly 400 media hits. We even received an honorable mention award (against Fortune 500 companies) for the work we did with Patch of Land, which we couldn’t have done without AdaPia’s incredible integration and communication.
- Collaboration – Sheridan Gaenger is a ball of energy who looks at her PR team like they are her partners in crime. We started working with her on an enterprise software solutions company that was recently rebranded under a larger umbrella company. As Director of Marketing, Sheridan not only had to communicate with us throughout the rebrand announcement’s two-week timeframe, she had to work with an entirely new team of people from a sister organization on internal brand messaging. And, she crushed it. She was a graceful conductor who coached all involved on how to effectively collaborate. For 15 minutes every morning of those two weeks, we were one team, and she kept the communication tight. I had literally never seen (in my 16 years in this industry) an initiative so well-orchestrated in such a short period of time. She knew and understood all of the different players, and clearly instructed each of us in a way that allowed us to pull it off with a killer execution in a domino effect of productivity. Because of Sheridan’s push to keep everyone aligned, she helped our team ensure the first official announcement from Symphony Talent was a huge success. We continue pushing all major initiatives with the same heart and precision – with Sheridan keeping us steady at the core.
- Operational Inclusion – Raf Howery, CEO of Kukun, is a prime example of how to include the PR team into actual decisions that will affect how a brand’s story can be told. Raf is the head of an amazing, evolving startup that is constantly growing and pivoting their platform in a forward-thinking way. But Raf does something not many executives do: he picks up the phone and informs us of what they are doing on the operational side, then asks our opinions on how those changes will translate to the press. He is mindful that there is a place for PR in business strategy. Based on timing, our team can counsel him on what announcements work best and what still needs to be fine-tuned to accomplish that quarter’s goals. An executive should understand the value a good PR team adds to their brand as a whole, even on the internal strategizing level. This makes for a strong partnership, timely stories and effective coverage. Raf is simply AMAZING at making us feel important to his overall business and that translates into better results and great team chemistry.
While these are specific scenarios in which some of our clients have hit a homerun, every single client we are involved with exhibits these qualities in their work with NRPR Group. They have each shown that they appreciate us, can communicate with us, will bring us into the fold and realize our value for their team. They have raised the bar for prospective future clients, since we’ve already worked with some of the best-of-the-best in a thoughtful exchange. We are picky when it comes to energy and clients we bring into the company. That is one of the main reasons we have been able to grow and excel at the rate we have with a small team, all working toward a grander-scale dream. We have prioritized consideration, chemistry and collaboration above all else in cherry-picking clients (and even members of our internal team), and that has led to a truly meaningful experience, overall. We know that with good agency/client chemistry, magic can happen.
This guest post is courtesy of Nicole Rodrigues, Founder & CEO, NRPR Group