Love-hate relationships with PR and marketing agencies

I’m a big fan of the blog on Econsultancy and yesterday I spotted a post with a headline that was impossible to ignore: Five reasons your clients hate you. Written specifically for those working in SEO agencies, I thought that all of the points in the article were also highly applicable to agency-based PR and marketing professionals:

1. You grind them down with jargon

No-one likes to be made to feel inadequate so don’t make it unnecessarily difficult for your clients to understand what it is that you’re trying to tell them. Forget about the jargon and the inside jokes; instead talk to them openly, honestly and directly. You’ll form far stronger working relationships this way.

2. You don’t show them measurable results

It is notoriously difficult to measure the value of PR coverage. There are plenty of indicators out there, though, that can be used as guideline measures – AVEs, circulation figures, unique web page visitor numbers, and so on. The impact of marketing activity can also be measured if KPIs are set to establish the most important results for the client.

By agreeing with the client what your aims and objectives are on day one, you’ll have something to map your progress against and you’ll be able to assuredly prove your worth.

3. You’re not good with people

We all have bad days, but when you work in PR or marketing, you’re expected to have exceptional “people skills”. If you don’t like picking up the phone or networking, perhaps this field just isn’t for you.

4. They can’t reach you when they want to

Working with agencies can be challenging. For a start, they’re rarely based just around the corner so it’s impossible to have daily face-to-face conversations. But, with Blackberries, iPhones, Twitter and mobile email there’s rarely an excuse for being completely out of contact.

If something big happens that needs containing instantly, you’re not going to please your client if the entire account team is out of reach. Responsiveness is a very common measure of service levels so don’t fall down at this really very simple hurdle.

5. You didn’t manage their expectations

Client-agency relationships often turn sour when results fail to meet expectations. In my experience, far too many agencies forget to ask the client what will be classed as a successful outcome. Clear goals not only make teams more focused, they also ensure that valuable – and often very expensive – time isn’t wasted chasing after the wrong results. That’s just frustrating for everyone.

I’m sure these five points of advice could also be applied to many other industries, so it’s worth keeping them front of mind to ensure that your clients never reach the point where love sadly but swiftly turns to hate.

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