I’ve been at this longer than I care to admit. And, I’ve had experience on both sides – as a client working with PR agencies and at PR agencies working with clients.
I like to keep things simple so I’ll describe what I refer to as the “Window-In, Window-Out” model that I believe is the key to making the fragile client-agency model work for both sides.
We meet in the middle working together – client representative(s) and agency representative(s). We represent all the others behind our respective windows. Our levels don’t matter if we play our roles properly. As examples, the client could be the PR head or PR manager or company CEO. And, the agency could be the head of the firm or worker-be.
First, I’ll address the role of the client in making the client-agency model work effectively. As your p.r. agency, we need a window into your business, your organization, your politics, your industry, your competition. We may have familiarity with all of those but we are not the experts. We need our client representative to be expert at guiding us in the right direction. That means keeping us out of mine fields, connecting with the right people and doing whatever it takes to keep us on course to helping move your business objectives forward. I know from experience in that role it means a lot of blocking and tackling that is not always easy or pleasant. But, that role is the important guiding light for the agency inside your company. Help us help you. Usually, the better the client rep the better the agency performs.
Now, the agency role is to serve as the client’s window out – in particular, to media, analysts and other influentials. To serve its client well, the agency needs extensive and solid relationships with those media outlets, analysts and influentials. The agency needs to be expert in helping the client to break through the clutter of noise and navigate so that writers and analysts that will be receptive to hearing – and hopefully being interested in – what the client has to say. Yes, that means keeping the client out of mine fields, connecting with the right people and doing whatever it takes to keep things on course to move business objectives forward.
While the model is simple, implementing this in the real world with all the variables of what goes on behind those windows of the client and agency representatives is way complicated. But, if we understand our roles and are able to manage those as outlined here, then the client-agency model will work out to the benefit of everyone involved.