Keys to know if you are working with the right Communications Agency
Knowing if you are working with the right Communication Agency is one of the most important questions that you have better ask yourself if you want to be on the top. Because of that and after years of experience, in LF Channel we could build the best professional team that we are nowadays.
“We want the WoW effect!” How many times in your professional career have you heard the magic phrase? These two interconnected words, WOW-effect, come out as one from the mouth of a MarCom Director. Maybe as if summing up a briefing, or with a smile of indifference as feedback to the communication campaign you just presented.
We all feel the pain of a client looking for differentiation, often byways of spectacularly, “fireworks”, something that will surprise the company audience. For the agency, on the other hand, those words often represent the first step in a more than likely endless round of changes to be bold and exceed the client’s expectations.
How to get the best out of it?
Because choosing the right agency to manage communication and branding is a critical decision for any Communication Department. The reputation of a brand sometimes recognized around the world and valued at millions of euros may be at stake.
Times have changed, and so should the relationship between a communication or marketing agency and its clients. And by change we do not mean having virtual meetings instead of face-to-face meetings.
Years ago, it was common for brands to assume that the more spectacular the events or actions agencies presented, the more capable they would be to perform well. Nowadays, if you want to create a professional relationship that generates good ROI, fireworks won’t harm, but there are some other values and assets to evaluate when picking an agency.
Here are five keys to know if you are working with the right Communications Agency
Trust: far beyond the SoW
The scope of work (SoW) lists all the deliverables to which the agency commits in a given period of time. And while some companies seem happy to see the boxes checked in the short term, that is by no means the only thing that speaks about the agency quality, or it’s matching your needs.
If you really want to establish a strategic relationship – and that should be made on trust – what would you be looking at? E.g. the level of seniority and background of the team members managing your account and the quality of their media relations; their creativity or their multidisciplinary capacity, beyond the traditional writing skills; how they contribute or not to your business vision. Paying attention to those qualities, you will be on the right track to ensure that you have a team of professionals you can trust. They will be able to guide you and help you grow your operations in a market area they know much better than you do.
Clarity: Do not take anything for granted
If there is one thing that will help you consolidate a good relationship with your Communication Agency, it is clarity. And this means two-way communication without beating around the bush. The key is to properly managing expectations in terms of results and, especially, being honest in giving feedback throughout the communication process. Building trust is a matter of time and mistakes can come sooner or later. Judging an agency’s long-standing work by a one-off mistake or miss-performance seems not fair, but talking things over and not sweeping them under the carpet is because forced silence will strain the relationship in the long run.
Vision: strategic brains, not just hands
Ideally, an agency ought to be much more than an extension of your team: a part of it. That will not happen overnight, and both sides have their interest in making it happen. The agency must have sufficient market knowledge to detect gaps or difficulties in advance. In this way, the client will optimize its resources in communication strategies that really generate a targeted return and avoid efforts on actions that do not meet its expectations. An agency value should not turn around deliverables alone but around its capacity to offer expert consultancy on a strategy that reaches objectives.
Proactivity: sufficiency vs excellence
To honour the work contract with its client, an agency must keep fulfilling its tasks; how this is done matters. Proactivity should be the norm, therefore detecting and offering development opportunities for the client. E.g., regularly assessing a feed of events that may be of interest to propose new initiatives, or staying close to the local sales team to understand their challenges and spot attractive new deals for use cases. The right agency will not fall short of good ideas and perseverance to achieve goals. They will help you raise funds internally.
Respect: make them feel part of your team and your successes
The agency should feel part of your own team, as they actively contribute to the company’s business development through their work. In the same way that you should clearly and constructively identify when something is not going well, you should publicly compliment the agency when successes come about because of their excellent work. All members of the team should feel equally respected and valued, as to a greater or lesser extent they all contribute to the success of an account.
By assessing these five main aspects in the selection/renewal process of a communications and/or marketing agency, the decision will be much easier. Beyond achieving effective communication for the brand, a relationship based on respect and trust will always bear fruit beyond the short term, and the return on investment will follow and keep growing.