1. Be honest about your budget.It is an inspiring challenge to create solutions that fits a client’s purse. On the other hand, creating something that never gets a sign off because they are too expensive is frustrating. Transparency from the start is best. That way the agency can use it’s time and energy to find solutions that can be realized and fly. Profitable for the agency, and good for you as a client.
2. Use smart contracts to make the agency perform over time. The best is usually to have a retainer deal that clearly states what the agency is expected to deliver over a given time period, let’s say a year or so. This minimizes administration and repeated discussions about money and focus can instead be where it should be – on getting the job done. And doing it well. If you are not happy with the results, just say so. If they do not listen and perform better, cancel the deal and find a new agency. The risk with a retainer lies primarily with the agency. It has to deliver results week after week, month after month in order to keep you as a (happy) client.
3. Demand that the entire team really works for you. If the agency tells you that their most senior advisor or the brightest young star will be part of your account, make sure that they really are. Do not pay for something that’s promised but not delivered. Many agencies present a dream team for all potential clients. It is great if you really get that team to play for you, but very bad if you just pay for it on paper.
4. Be generous with praise! A PR consultant’s work is often tough and sometimes outright ungrateful. If the project is a success the client is the hero – internally and externally.
If it does not go well, we as consultants are often blamed. That is ok and fine. But a client that shows understanding and appreciate the work that is done – even when it is not a homerun – will soon have a very dedicated team ready to do whatever it takes to keep you happy by delivering great results.
5. Do not believe the hype. PR is not some sort of strange black magic. It is primarily a lot of hard work and just a little bit of art and good contacts. Use the agency to educate your organization about how it is done. Then you will soon become better at making the right demands and to use the agency for the more difficult tasks. This will save you both time and money in the end.
6. Make time for feedback and respect deadlines. As consultants we love clients that actually delivers feedback on plans and material by the agreed deadline. The account manager will be able to plan for maximal results and to use the resources you pay for the way he or she planned. Allocated time for media contacts or production that can’t be used the way it was planned throws a spanner in the works for both your team and the agency at large.
NICLAS LÖVKVIST, senior advisor & CEO